The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused. - Shirley MacLaine
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 26, Part II, 6 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

***********************************************************************
OMRI, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Announcement:

Due to a restructuring of operations at the Open Media Research
Institute, OMRI will cease publication of the OMRI Daily Digest with the
issue dated 28 March 1997. For more information on the restructuring of
the Institute, please access the 21 November 1996 Press Release at:
http://www.omri.cz/about/PressRelease.html

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.

OMRI will continue to publish the periodical Transition, for more
information on Transition please access
http://www.omri.cz/publications/transition/index.html or send a
request for information to: transition-DD@omri.cz

*********************************************************************

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENTARY STANDOFF CONTINUES. The Crimean legislature voted
by a narrow margin to dismiss its presidium, international agencies
reported on 5 February. The parliament also began impeachment
proceedings against speaker Vasyl Kyselyov, who claimed to be a victim
in the war between rival Crimean organized crime groups. On 4 February,
the parliament adopted a law stipulating that the region's government
would be appointed and dismissed by its legislature, UNIAR reported.
According to Ukrainian legislation, the Crimean prime minister is
directly appointed by the Ukrainian president. But last month, the
Crimean parliament dismissed its government, leading to a dispute with
Leonid Kuchma who called the move unconstitutional. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

FLU EPIDEMIC IN BELARUS. Some 300,000 people in Belarus have fallen ill
with respiratory infections, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 February. At the
end of January, approximately 31,000 people were hospitalized with the
flu and flu-related illnesses. Belarus health officials reported that
children make up about 45% of all cases, and dismissed rumors that there
were two deaths as a result of the epidemic. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS ENGLAND. Toomas Hendrik Ilves completed
a three-day visit to London on 5 February with talks with Defense
Secretary Michael Portillo and British Council Director General Sir John
Hanson, BNS reported. The previous day, he discussed European security
questions and EU and NATO enlargement with his counterpart Malcolm
Rifkind and economic relations with Deputy Minister for Trade Anthony
Nelson. Ilves told a seminar at the University of London that attitudes
toward Estonia will be the touchstone of EU enlargement. Estonia's non-
admission among the first new members would indicate that geopolitical
considerations, and not a country's progress in reform, might influence
the date of its admission. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA DOES NOT SIGN LETTER OF INTENT WITH IMF MISSION. Prime
Minister Gediminas Vagnorius said over national radio on 5 February that
disagreements over reducing import duties for farm products was why the
government had not signed a letter of intent with the recently departed
IMF delegation, ELTA reported. Lithuania will not lower those duties to
10% later this year as promised by the previous government, because
doing so would hurt the country's farmers and could even cause a
financial crisis. He noted that real import duties had declined to 20%
from 27.5%. Vagnorius added that the new economic policy memorandum to
be signed in September would include gradually abandoning both the
currency board and pegging the litas to the dollar. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH HIGH OFFICIAL MAY GO BEFORE STATE TRIBUNAL. A motion signed on 5
February by 139 deputies, mostly from the Democratic Left Alliance
(SLD), calls for Internal Affairs Minister Andrzej Milczanowski to stand
before a state tribunal, Polish media reported. The motion was prompted
by Milczanowski's spy allegations formulated in December 1995 against
then-Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. Prosecutors dropped charges against
Olesky in April 1996, finding evidence against him inadequate and
seriously flawed. The accusations against Milczanowski say he neglected
his ministerial responsibilities to oversee the security service and
therefore harmed the interests of the state and of Oleksy. He is also
accused of not informing prosecutors about the suspected crime, of
revealing secret information openly in the Sejm, and of sharing secret
security service material with the foreign minister. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH RAIL WORKERS' STRIKE EXTENDED. Trade unions representing Czech
railroad workers announced on 5 February that they will extend their 48-
hour strike, which should have ended today, by another 24 hours, Czech
media reported. Trade union representatives said they were unable to
reach an agreement with the management of Czech Railways and the
Ministry of Transportation on how to improve the railroads' efficiency
and increase wages. -- Jiri Pehe

CONTROVERSY OVER VACATED SEAT IN SLOVAK PARLIAMENT. The opposition
claimed the parliament on 5 February violated the law in approving
Ladislav Hruska to replace the recently deceased Slovak National Party
(SNS) Deputy Bartolomej Kunc, CTK reported. The election law states that
vacated seats must be taken by the next candidate on the party's list,
provided he won over 10% of that party's preferential votes. The seat
thus should have gone to Emil Spisak, who joined the opposition
Democratic Union (DU) after being expelled from the SNS two years ago.
The opposition promised to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.
Also on 5 February, DU Deputy Anton Hrnko announced that he was leaving
his party, reportedly because of his disapproval of the opposition's
referendum petition calling for direct presidential elections. DU Deputy
Chairman Ludovit Cernak said Hrnko will not "join any political camp,"
but CTK reported that Hrnko has had frequent contacts with the ruling
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK COALITION CRISIS BREWING? Jozef Migas, chairman of the opposition
Party of the Democratic Left, noted on 5 February that current relations
among ruling parties resemble the situation during last June's coalition
crisis, CTK reported. In June, disputes over the privatization of
Slovakia's largest financial institutions nearly tore apart the ruling
coalition. Bank privatization was banned until 31 March, however, Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar now seems intent on carrying through with it,
much to the dismay of the Association of Workers (ZRS), a junior
coalition partner. Although the SNS was the instigator of last summer's
crisis, the party now sides with Meciar. Both the SDL and the ZRS
believe the four biggest financial institutions should not be
privatized. Also on 5 February, Slovak Foreign Ministry spokesman Ivan
Korcok rejected Hungarian accusations that Bratislava is violating
international legal commitments by failing to approve the long-delayed
minority language law, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER IDENTIFIES TWO SEPARATE POWER GROUPS.
According to Young Democrat Chairman Viktor Orban, there are two
separate power groups emerging within the opposition, Magyar Hirlap
reported on 6 February. Orban said one group includes the Smallholders
Party and the Christian Democrats, while the other includes the Young
Democrats and the Democratic Forum. (All parties have signed cooperation
agreements within each group in preparation for the 1998 general
elections.) Orban added that the country is now mentally ready for a
change of government, and the only question is whether the Smallholders
Party or the Young Democrats will replace the governing Socialists. He
foresees a major defeat for the Socialists in 1998, similar to that of
the Democratic Forum in 1994. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

UPDATE ON HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL INVESTIGATION. The parliament
on 4 February voted to lift Laszlo Boldvai's immunity, as requested by
the prosecutor general, Hungarian dailies reported. Boldvai, the
Socialist Party's treasurer and deputy, has been accused of abuse of
influence after it was revealed that he arranged the transfer of 200
million forints ($1.25 million) from a privatization consultant's bank
account to a company linked to the Socialist Party (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 20 January 1997). Tamas Deutsch, deputy of the opposition Young
Democrats and chairman of the parliamentary commission investigating
illegal payments by the state privatization agency (APV) to the outside
consultant, said the commission may shortly see even Prime Minister
Gyula Horn and Free Democrat President Ivan Peto testify. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE ON EASTERN SLAVONIA. U.S. Ambassador Peter
Galbraith, who is widely regarded as one of the politically most
important people in Croatia, joined EU ambassadors in a meeting with
Foreign Minister Mate Granic. The diplomats stressed that Croatia must
do all it has promised to reassure the Serbs of eastern Slavonia prior
to its return to Croatian authority on 15 July. After the meeting,
Galbraith said: "The process of reintegration is, I think, going very
well. It is speeding up toward July 15," Reuters reported on 5 February.
He goes today to eastern Slavonia to tell the Serbs that "the Croatian
letter [to the UN outlining its policies in the area] represents a very
positive step, that there is no more time for negotiation, that measures
are in place to protect the rights of the Serbian population." Meanwhile
in Vukovar, the local Serb assembly condemned recent violent incidents,
which Galbraith said were the work of Serbian extremists (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 5 February 1997). -- Patrick Moore

EXPERTS HAND OVER SREBRENICA BODIES TO BOSNIAN AUTHORITIES. Experts from
the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 5
February handed over to Bosnian authorities the remains of more than 300
bodies found in mass graves at Pilica and Lazete, international and
local media reported. The bodies are linked to the massacre of
Srebrenica Muslims by Serbs in summer 1995. Amor Masovic, head of the
war crimes commission in the Bosnian Federation, said the victims were
killed by gunshot. The tribunal's experts said that the bodies will
provide evidence for the Hague-based tribunal prosecutions. Exhumations
are also being carried out by the former warring parties themselves.
Masovic said a total of 1,928 bodies had been recovered from 31 mass
graves and hundreds of smaller graves throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina;
1,031 bodies had been identified. Meanwhile, in New York, a magistrate
ordered indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic to stand trial in New
York in a lawsuit accusing him of crimes against humanity. The suit was
filed by Bosnian women refugees, international agencies reported on 6
February. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIA TO START PAYING PENSIONS BACKLOG AHEAD OF LOCAL POLLS. The
Croatian parliament's upper house on 4 February backed a bill to begin
payment of pension arrears on 3 March, local and international media
reported. The opposition parliament deputies accused the ruling party of
using the bill as part of a preelection campaign; it comes only two
weeks before Croatia's local elections scheduled for 16 March, Novi List
reported. The bill envisages payments to cover the debt that had accrued
since 1 February 1995. In other news, Zvonimir Markovic, the first
Croatian ambassador to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, on 5 February
presented his credentials to Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic. Upon
arrival at the Croatian Embassy in Belgrade's Dedinje district, Markovic
raised the Croatian flag outside the building, Hina reported. -- Daria
Sito Sucic

SERBIA TAKES MOVES TO VALIDATE OPPOSITION VICTORIES . . . The government
of Serbia submitted to parliament on 5 February a draft of legislation
which calls for the recognition of local runoff election wins by the
opposition Zajedno coalition in 14 municipalities, Tanjug reported. The
legislature is slated to discuss the legislative proposal on 11
February. These latest moves, however, may not signal that the
government of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is interested in
genuine compromise or turning over political authority at any level to
the opposition. Representatives of Mirjana Markovic's Party, the
Yugoslav United Left, publicly called on 5 February for an end to mass
demonstrations, hinting that failure to do so may lead to renewed police
aggression against peaceful protesters. Markovic is Milosevic's wife and
political confidante. -- Stan Markotich

. . . BUT THE OPPOSITION REMAINS CAUTIOUS. For their part, leaders of
the Zajedno coalition said that while Milosevic's latest moves may
represent some grounds for optimism, they do not indicate government
resolve to make fundamental political changes. The leader of the Serbian
Civic Alliance, Vesna Pesic, struck a note of caution while addressing
the Belgrade crowd on 5 February, saying, "This is just round one ... We
must change the entire system, step by step. ... [and] demand economic
reform, freedom, and life with dignity." Reaction from some quarters of
the international community emphasized the optimistic. OSCE chair and
Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen remarked that Milosevic's
latest moves "hopefully [represent] a step toward positive democratic
development in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The installation in
office of the elected candidates is expected without delay," Reuters
reported on 6 February. -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN SENTENCED TO 11 YEARS FOR KILLING ALBANIAN IN KOSOVO. A court in
Kosovo has sentenced Zlatibor Jovanovic to 11 years in prison for
shooting dead the ethnic Albanian Armend Daci in Pristina last April,
AFP reported on 5 February. According to defense lawyers, the verdict
was the harshest ruling in six years against a Serbian national in
Kosovo. The murder had sparked street protests and was followed by the
killing of five Serbs by unidentified attackers. -- Fabian Schmidt

CONSTANTINESCU IN PARIS. After meeting for an hour with visiting
Romanian President Emil Constantinescu on 5 February, French President
Jaques Chirac said France will strongly plead Romania's case to its NATO
allies, Romanian and international media reported. Chirac also said
Paris will help Bucharest join the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development, as well as its bid for membership in the European
Union. Constantinescu also met with members of the Romanian emigre
community there. Paris was the last stage of his tour, which included
Brussels and Davos, Switzerland. Chirac is to visit Romania on 20-21
February, the first Western leader to do so after the change in
government. -- Zsolt Mato

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT GOES BACK ON ELECTORAL PROMISES. Minister of Labor
Alexandru Athanasiu told a parliamentary commission on 5 February that
the government will have to delay promises made during the electoral
campaign to cut income taxes, Radio Bucharest reported on 5 February. He
said the government cannot afford to do so now because of an expected
rise in unemployment due to the planned closing or privatization of non-
productive state enterprises. Athanasiu said salaries will be indexed
only to 75% of the cost of living rise, but the minimum taxable salary
will double from the present 97,000 lei (about $16). Meanwhile, trade
union leaders said their members were losing patience and would not wait
beyond 10 February for the government to announce how it intends to
cover the social costs of reform. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN JUDGES PROTEST LOW WAGES. Judges in some Bucharest districts
refused to attend court sessions, Radio Bucharest reported on 4-5
February. While the protest is over low wages and poor working
conditions, the action is not called a "strike," because the law
prohibits magistrates to take labor action. After meeting with the
judges, Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica said no immediate measures were
possible, and the magistrates would have to wait at least two months
before any action would be taken. The judges decided to continue their
protest. -- Dan Ionescu

CONSULTATIONS ON BULGARIAN CARETAKER GOVERNMENT START. Sofia Mayor
Stefan Sofiyanski agreed to head the caretaker government which will
conduct early parliamentary elections in April, Pari and Kontinent
reported on 6 February. According to press reports, the government will
include several top advisers of President Petar Stoyanov. Krasimir
Angarski is slated to become deputy premier and finance minister and
will be in charge of talks with international financial institutions,
while Stoyanov's adviser on international economic affairs, Valentin
Dobrev, will probably become foreign minister. The cabinet will also
include opposition deputies; Union of Democratic Forces Deputy Chairman
Aleksandar Bozhkov is expected to become deputy premier and economics
minister. But opposition deputies said the cabinet lineup is not yet
ready and only Stoyanov knows the names. Meanwhile, the IMF on 5
February announced it will resume talks with Bulgaria after the
formation of the caretaker government. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS BOYCOTT PARLIAMENT. The Bulgarian Socialist Party
(BSP) on 5 February decided to boycott all parliamentary sessions apart
from those making changes to the electoral law, Standart reported. The
BSP deputies started their boycott on 6 February, forcing one session to
be called off. The boycott means that urgent legislation, including
anti-crisis measures and the introduction of a currency board, cannot be
passed. The decision was taken after sessions of the BSP Executive
Bureau and the Socialist parliamentary caucus. The BSP asked that
Stoyanov dissolve the parliament by 14 February. The orthodox Marxist
platform within the BSP called for the expulsion from the BSP of Nikolay
Dobrev, who, as premier-designate, returned the mandate and thus opened
the way for early elections without consulting the party. The hardliners
accused Dobrev of "violating party discipline and [of] national
treason." Meanwhile, former President Zhelyu Zhelev called for the BSP's
voluntary dissolution. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN PROTESTS COME TO AN END. The united opposition and the trade
unions on 5 February held "victory rallies" in towns throughout Bulgaria
to celebrate the BSP's refusal to form a second government and the
political forces' decision to call early elections in April, national
media reported. "We won our greatest victory since the totalitarian
regime's collapse," SDS parliamentary caucus Leader Yordan Sokolov told
tens of thousands at the central Sofia rally, 24 chasa reported. While
these rallies are supposed to be the last after one month of
demonstrations, strikes over economic demands continued in several
enterprises. State television journalists also continued their strike
against censorship. In other news, Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev
said he will launch investigations against several ministers of the
previous BSP cabinet for causing the current economic crisis. -- Maria
Koinova

RIOTS AFTER NEW COLLAPSE OF ALBANIAN PYRAMID SCHEME. Six people were
injured on 5 February during armed clashes at an anti-government
demonstration in Vlora, AFP reported. Three policemen and two civilians
were shot and wounded during two armed incidents. The trouble began when
police used clubs and a water cannon to break up a crowd of 5,000
protesters demanding their money back from the Gjallica investment
company. On 6 February around 10,000 people protested in Vlora, and
Reuters reported both stones and vegetables were thrown. Gjallica had
promised two months ago to reimburse by 6 February its roughly 400,000
investors who had poured some $300,000 into the company. Fitim
Gerxhalliu, the company's founder, announced on 5 February that there
was no money left. The payout of frozen assets to investors of the
Xhaferri and Populli schemes, meanwhile, continued, Radio Deutsche
Welle's Albanian-language service reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Valentina Huber

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