Silence is the real crime against humanity. - Nadezhda Mandelstam
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 29, Part II, 11 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

RENEWED CONTROVERSY OVER FINANCING CHORNOBYL CLOSURE. Ukrainian Nuclear
Safety Minister Yurii Kostenko has voiced frustration over the
possibility that the G-7 may decide not to fund the construction of new
nuclear reactors in Rivne and Khmelnitsky, AFP reported. Kostenko said
such a decision could mean that the Chornobyl nuclear plant would not be
closed by 2000. Last year, Ukraine promised to keep to that timetable in
return for a G-7 aid package worth some $3.1 billion to fund the closure
and to finance alternate forms of energy. G-7 experts met in Washington
yesterday to discuss the aid package. According to a recent EBRD report,
Ukraine has failed to look at the energy sector as a whole, opting for
two new nuclear reactors instead of improving existing thermal power
plants. Kostenko countered that Ukraine proposed developing thermal
power two years ago but that EBRD opted for nuclear power. -- Oleg
Varfolomeyev

PRO-RUSSIAN GROUP BLASTS CRIMEAN TATARS FOR SEEKING PRIVILEGES. The
Russian Society of Crimea has claimed that the Crimean Tatar Assembly's
recent appeal to the Ukrainian and Crimean authorities is "dictated by
the desire to gain political privileges in accordance with ethnic
origin," UNIAN reported on 8 February. Tatars leaders are collecting
signatures to the appeal in order to draw attention in Ukraine and
abroad to problems encountered by Tatars returning to Crimea after the
mass-expulsion in the 1940s. The Russian Society said that, as a result
of their actions, the Crimean Tatar leaders could aggravate interethnic
tensions on the peninsula. It urged the Ukrainian president and
parliament "not to be under the thumb of the [Crimean Tatar Assembly]
and not to divide citizens into natives and non-natives." -- Oleg
Varfolomeyev

FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN BELARUS. Following a meeting with officials from
the Ministry of Trade and the State Revenue Department on 8 February,
the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Investment reported that Belarus
has been offered some $70 million in investments for various projects,
Belarusian TV reported. The ministry has said it recognizes the need to
set up a special body to monitor and facilitate the allocation of the
funds, most of which are intended to support entrepreneurs. Priority
will be given to those working in the production sector, who currently
constitute 20% of the country's entrepreneurs. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER SURVIVES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. Tiit Vahi remains
in office following the failure on 10 February of a no-confidence motion
proposed by the opposition Pro Patria Union, Moderates, Reform Party,
and Rightists caucuses, Western agencies reported. Deputies voted by 46
to 45 with one abstention not to oust the premier. The no-confidence
motion followed charges that Vahi helped privatize apartments in
downtown Tallinn's center in an "unethical manner" while serving as
Tallinn City Council chairman from 1993-1995 The decision of the nine
members of the Center Party to back Vahi's ouster indicates his
dwindling support in the parliament. -- Saulius Girnius

INFLATION IN BALTIC STATES. According to the Lithuanian Statistics
Department, inflation increased from 0.9% in December to 3% in January,
BNS reported on 10 February. Higher value-added tax on some food
products contributed to a 5.2% increase in food prices. Several days
earlier, the Latvian State Statistical Committee announced that consumer
prices in January rose by 1.9%, compared with a 0.6% rise in December.
Food prices increased by 1.7% and services went up by 2.8%. The Estonian
State Statistics Department, meanwhile, reported that consumer prices
increased by 1.4% in January, double the figure for December. Food
prices rose by 1.3% and services by 1.6%. Twelve-month inflation rates
in all three countries, however, have declined. -- Saulius Girnius

UPDATE ON "MEDICAL AFFAIR" IN POLAND. Waldemar Krupa, head of a public
clinic in the northern city of Bialystok, has been dismissed for
accepting expensive medical equipment free of charge, Polish media
reported on 11 February. Krupa is the third clinic head to be dismissed
in an affair that, according to Health Minister Jacek Zochowski,
involves at least 68 hospital heads and has cost the state 30 million
zloty ($10 million). According to unofficial estimates, that figure
could be as high as 300 million. In late 1995, Krupa signed documents
purchasing ultra-sound equipment for above-average prices but accepted
the apparatus free of charge. The clinic's debt, plus interest, was then
sold to a company that used the owed money to cover its tax obligations.
According to the Health Ministry, the debt of the health-care sector
totaled 1.5-1.7 billion zloty in 1996. The opposition Freedom Union has
submitted a no-confidence vote against Zochowski. -- Beata Pasek

CZECH PREMIER, OPPOSITION LEADER DISCUSS CZECH-GERMAN DECLARATION.
Vaclav Klaus and parliamentary Chairman Milos Zeman have announced that
the parliament may adopt an accompanying statement to the Czech-German
declaration, Czech media reported on 10 February. According to Klaus,
the statement would be neither a preamble nor an interpretation of the
declaration. Until now, Klaus has strongly opposed the adoption of any
such statement. The German parliament approved the declaration last
month without any additional text. The two Czech leaders also discussed
the current impasse in the lower chamber of the parliament, where the
extremist parties have virtually stopped proceedings through filibusters
and obstructions, Czech media reported. Klaus and Zeman agreed that it
may be necessary to amend the rules governing parliamentary sessions. --
Jiri Pehe

BELATED CRITICISM OF SLOVAK INFORMATION SERVICE. Jozef Migas, chairman
of the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL), told Novy cas on 8 February,
that "official and unofficial intelligence services" are trying to
discredit him. Migas is known for his neutral stand toward both the
governing coalition and the opposition. Sme suggested on 11 February
that Migas's criticism might be an attempt to conceal the fact that he
has visited the home of the deputy director of the Slovak Information
Service (SIS). The daily claimed that Migas has been seen there several
times. It also reported that the SIS is cultivating contacts with Slovak
TV director Igor Kubis and Eva Zelenayova, a deputy of the Movement for
a Democratic Slovakia. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN PREMIER READY TO TESTIFY IN PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL CASE.
Premier Gyula Horn has told the parliament that he is ready to testify
in the privatization scandal case, although he himself is not implicated
in the scandal, Hungarian media reported on 11 February. "I am prepared
to appear before the House committee and to testify," Horn said, adding
that "the guilty must be punished but the insinuations must stop." He
also said that it is in the "vital interest" of politicians to keep
public life "clean." He noted that after the scandal had broken, he
dismissed the top management of the State Privatization and Holding
Company (APV) as well as the minister in charge of privatization. But a
subsequent investigation showed that individuals closely associated with
the two governing parties had pressured a consultant working for the APV
to share her record-high commission. Opposition deputies said that if
the scandal had not been uncovered, the money would have been used for
the 1998 election campaign. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

RIOTS IN VLORA CLAIM TWO MORE LIVES . . . In clashes with police that
left about 81 people injured--many seriously--30-year-old Arthur Rustemi
died after being shot in the back, international media reported on 10
February. Rustemi's assailant was not identified. Another victim was the
51-year-old Maliq Banushi--the second person to die of a heart attack
during demonstrations since 9 February. Vlora residents beat police
officers and burned their uniforms, guns, and shields in a display of
uncontrolled rage against the authorities. Some 20,000 people
accompanied Rustemi's coffin today to a local cemetery, shouting anti-
government slogans and setting fire to the local headquarters of the
Democratic Party. -- Fabian Schmidt

. . . WHILE PARLIAMENT PREPARES TO DECLARE STATE OF EMERGENCY. The
Albanian government is to submit legislation to the parliament imposing
a state of emergency there. In late January, the legislature passed a
law allowing for the use of the military to protect public buildings and
roads, but the government has pledged not to use soldiers against
protesters. Troops, however, are reported to have arrived in Vlora.
According to newspaper reports on 11 February, the Interior Ministry has
also mobilized about 1,000 students and peasants from northern Albanian
and sent them to join anti-riot police in Vlora. Greek Foreign Minister
Theodoros Pangalos has called for an emergency meeting of EU foreign
ministers to discuss the situation in Albania. -- Fabian Schmidt

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE URGES MILOSEVIC TO RECOGNIZE ELECTION RETURNS.
Madeleine Albright, in a letter to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic
dated 8 February, has appealed to the Serbian authorities to recognize
municipal returns and to enter into dialogues with the opposition
parties, Reuters reported on 10 February. Washington is concerned that
the legislation would limit the authority of local councils by stripping
them of revenue sources. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns
commented that "the only result that will satisfy the United States is
if the people who won the November 17 elections actually take their
seats and have sufficient powers to do their job--meaning the powers
haven't been stripped away in some back room deal, which is another
option that we've heard about, another option available to the anti-
democrats in Belgrade." -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN OPPOSITION SEES "HOT" TIMES AHEAD. A parliamentary legislative
committee on 10 February ratified a draft law allegedly recognizing
opposition wins in the November municipal runoffs, Tanjug reported. The
legislation is slated to be discussed in the parliament today. Leaders
of the opposition Zajedno coalition responded by warning that the bill's
passage will not signal the end of demands for reform. Democratic Party
leader Zoran Djindjic, speaking to demonstrators in Belgrade on 10
February, said that "ahead of us is a long hot spring and summer, not to
mention a fight against those who have not surrendered and who view
their own people as dupes of foreign [powers]." Zajedno leaders also
vowed they would continue the mass demonstrations at least until
opposition municipal mandates are recognized. -- Stan Markotich

MUSLIMS, SERBS STEP UP MILITARY PRESSURE ON BRCKO. SFOR officials said
that the armies of both the Federation and the Republika Srpska have
made additional requests recently to hold exercises near Brcko, AFP
reported on 10 February. SFOR called for calm and pointed out that
neither side will be allowed to bring big guns into the area. The fate
of the strategic region will be announced by a U.S. mediator later this
week. The Brcko issue was the only one that proved too thorny to be
resolved at Dayton, and both sides have said that its loss would mean
war. The Serbs want to keep it to provide a link between the eastern and
western halves of their territory. For the Muslims and Croats, its
return to them is a crucial symbol of the need to reverse the effects of
ethnic cleansing. -- Patrick Moore

VIOLENT MUSLIM-CROAT CLASHES IN MOSTAR. Some 500 Muslims who were headed
for the cemetery in the Croatian half of Mostar on 10 February to mourn
their dead were attacked by some 700 Croats taking part in a Roman
Catholic carnival parade, Reuters reported. Major Tony White, spokesman
for the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia, said there were
22 injured, two seriously, and one dead. All casualties were Muslims who
had wanted to visit their family graves on the second day of the Islamic
religious holiday of Bajram. Mike Fabbro, SFOR spokesman in Mostar, said
that Croats, including policemen, had opened fire on the crowd. But
Mostar Mayor Ivica Prskalo, a Croat, blamed Muslim extremists, saying
the visit to the graveyard was a "provocation." A curfew was imposed on
both halves of the city. But according to Reuters on 11 February, a new
wave of evictions of Muslims from the Croatian half followed during the
night. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIA TO RECONSIDER DATE FOR LOCAL VOTE. The Croatian authorities have
announced that they will either confirm or postpone the date of the
local elections by Wednesday, according to Vjesnik on 11 February. The
vote has been slated for 16 March, but the government may move the date
into April so that balloting can go ahead smoothly everywhere. The
problem is that voting will also take place in eastern Slavonia, which
is still in Serb hands, and that distribution of citizenship papers
there is proceeding slowly. The Croatian government is determined to
have eastern Slavonia vote at the same time as the rest of the country
to underscore its reintegration. The UN's administrator for the region,
Jacques Klein, met with President Franjo Tudjman on 10 February and will
speak today to Serbian President Milosevic about the elections. --
Patrick Moore

MACEDONIAN, GREEK HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS CRITICIZE LAW DISCRIMINATING
AGAINST NON-GREEKS. Eleven Greek and Macedonian human rights and refugee
groups issued a statement in Skopje on 9 February urging Athens to
repeal a law that prevents non-Greeks who fled the country 50 years ago
from returning, AFP reported. Greece passed a law in 1982 welcoming back
citizens who fled after the civil war in 1946-49 but excluding those who
were not of Greek origin. The law, in effect, discriminated against
people of Macedonian-Slav origin in the north of the country. Athens
does not recognize the existence of a Macedonian-Slav minority. --
Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT PLEDGES TO INDEX SALARIES. The cabinet on 10
February has proposed to the trade unions to index salaries, Radio
Bucharest reported. The average monthly wage would increase by more than
30%, from 329,000 lei ($53) to 430,000 lei ($70). The offer came after
several rounds of talks with union leaders amid growing popular
dissatisfaction over recent price hikes. The new cabinet has launched
radical reformist policies leading to a drastic devaluation of the
national currency and increases in prices. It hopes that the wage
increase will compensate for some 75% of the price hikes. In a first
reaction, a union leader was quoted as saying that the proposals could
be a basis for further negotiations. -- Dan Ionescu

NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN MOLDOVA. Javier Solana, on the first day of
his fact-finding visit to Chisinau, met with President Petru Lucinschi,
Premier Ion Ciubuc, Foreign Minister Mihai Popov, Defense Minister
Valeriu Pasat, and parliamentary leaders. Moldovan and Western media
reported. The hosts seized the opportunity to re-affirm Moldova's
neutrality--as stipulated in the constitution--stressing that the
country does not intend to join any military alliance. Chisinau,
however, is seeking closer cooperation with NATO and is eager to serve
as a bridge between the alliance and Russia, which remains opposed to
NATO enlargement. Solana told journalists that NATO wants to build
"solid bilateral relations with Russia and a special relation to
Ukraine." He suggested that Moldova could serve as an intermediary in
those efforts. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN POLITICAL PARTIES REACH CONSENSUS . . . At a meeting with
President Petar Stoyanov on 10 February, consensus was reached among all
parties represented in the parliament on how to resolve the country's
economic crisis, international media reported. Parliamentary elections
are scheduled to be held on 19 April, and the current parliament is to
be dissolved in the coming days. Until the next parliament has been
installed, the Consultative Council for National Security, which is
headed by Stoyanov, will oversee all talks on national security.
Privatization is to be speeded up and insolvent enterprises liquidated.
In addition, measures are to be taken to fight corruption and
accountability demanded from those responsible for the current economic
crisis. Meanwhile, Stoyanov wrote IMF Director-General Michel Camdessus
that both still to be named interim government and the national bank
will be willing to meet with high-level IMF officials immediately. --
Maria Koinova

. . . BUT FUEL CRISIS DEEPENS, HYPERINFLATION THREATENS. Neftochim, the
country's main oil refinery, is experiencing its most serious crisis in
seven years, Bulgarian media reported on 8 February. Because of high
inflation, the company cannot make a profit and thus is unable to buy
crude. Almost all of Sofia's gas stations are closed, and public
transport services were significantly reduced last weekend in both Sofia
and Plovdiv. The authorities on 10 February released 150 metric tons of
diesel fuel from reserves to secure Sofia's public transport until the
end of this week. Meanwhile, Pari reported on 11 February that Bulgarian
consumer prices rose by 43.8% in January, the highest rate since
February 1991 and just under the 50% barrier for hyperinflation. High
inflation has been caused largely by the collapse of the lev. The
Bulgarian National Bank has intervened to try to stabilize the national
currency, reducing its foreign reserves to $415 million. Foreign-debt
servicing for 1997 alone totals some $857 million. -- Maria Koinova and
Michael Wyzan

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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