Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 30, Part I, 12 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

************************************************************************
In the 21 February issue of OMRI's journal, TRANSITION:

DISSIDENTS -- THEN AND NOW
- Reshaping Dissident Ideals for Post-Communist Times
- How Rude pravo 'Helped' Get Charter 77 off the Ground
- In Poland, A Long-Standing Tradition of Resistance
PLUS...
- CENTRAL ASIA: The Gordian Knot of Energy
- BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: Janusz Bugajski on Stabilizing Partition with SFOR
- VIEWPOINT: Vladimir Shlapentokh on Creating 'The Russian Dream' After
Chechnya

For subscription information about OMRI's new monthly, send an e-mail
message to transition@omri.cz
************************************************************************

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

FOREIGN LOANS KEEP UKRAINIAN ECONOMY AFLOAT. Deputy Finance Minister
Serhei Matsakaria told the parliament on 11 February that, as of the
beginning of 1997, Ukraine had received $3.5 billion in foreign loans,
international media reported. About $2.2 billion came from the IMF--
which is Ukraine's largest donor, followed by the EBRD and the World
Bank. Matsakaria said the loans had helped last year to stabilize
Ukraine's new national currency, the hryvnya, and to reduce inflation.
Ukraine's foreign debt totals some $9 billion, of which $4 billion is
owed to Russia and Turkmenistan. Meanwhile, the German embassy in Kyiv
has announced that all German public humanitarian organizations have
stopped delivering aid to Ukraine in response to the Ukrainian law
banning the duty-free import of humanitarian aid. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

UKRAINE TO UNILATERALLY DELIMIT BORDER WITH RUSSIA? A Ukrainian Foreign
Ministry official has warned that Ukraine might take unilateral steps in
delimiting the Ukrainian-Russian border, ITAR-TASS reported on 11
February. He claimed that Russia was dragging its feet over bilateral
talks on border delimitation because of the uncertain fate of the Black
Sea Fleet and the status of Sevastopol. He also noted that Ukraine has
solved the problem of demarcating borders with its other close
neighbors--Belarus and Moldova. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

BELARUS PRESIDENT BLAMES GOVERNMENT FOR INFLATION . . . Alyaksandr
Lukashenka on 11 February blamed the government for the recent increase
in inflation, Reuters reported. The Belarusian president has issued a
decree providing for a 2% increase in inflation in 1997; in January,
however, inflation stood at 13.3%. Economists say the increase is partly
due to price liberalization and the 40% rise in wages and pensions since
December. They also point to the government's monetary policies and
recommend that Lukashenka free currency exchange rates, which are
currently fixed at 20,050 Belarusian rubles to $1 (well below the rate
in Moscow). Acting Prime Minister Syarhey Linh promised to keep
inflation under control by regulating prices in the energy, transport,
and "communal services" sectors. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

. . . AND SAYS HE WANTS SWEDISH-STYLE SOCIALISM. In an interview with a
Lithuanian journalist on 11 January, Lukashenka confirmed his intention
to pursue a "multi-vectorial" foreign policy, ITAR-TASS reported. He
stressed that relations with Russia will remain top priority and will be
built on principles similar to those of the European Union. Belarus is
striving for integration that will not entail loss of sovereignty, he
added. Relations with Germany, Poland, and the Baltic countries will
also be important. With regard to socio-economic policy, Lukashenka said
that he wants Belarus to have the same kind of socialism as in Sweden.
-- Sergei Solodovnikov

ESTONIAN PREMIER SEEKS TO EXPAND RULING COALITION. Tiit Vahi on 11
February announced that he has launched talks to expand his current
minority government coalition, ETA reported. He said the coalition--
composed of the Coalition Party and a bloc of farmers' parties--could
find backing among right-wing parties, but he did not name any party. He
added that he would be willing to resign when the parliamentary parties
can agree on a more suitable candidate. His decision seems to have been
prompted by the narrow margin with which he escaped a no confidence
motion the preivious day. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW PROGRAM FOR LATVIAN GOVERNMENT. Prime Minister-designate Andris
Skele and the leaders of six political parties have signed a draft
program for the new government, BNS reported on 11 February. The program
was proposed by Skele and modified by the signatory parties. It retains
the provision that if a minister resigns, his party is granted priority
in choosing a replacement. However, no agreement was reached on how the
various ministries are to be divided between the political parties. A
major bone of contention was reported to be the justice portfolio. --
Saulius Girnius

ROCKY RELATIONS BETWEEN LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT, PRESIDENT? President
Algirdas Brazauskas on 10 February said he would not submit Prosecutor-
General Vladas Nikitinas's resignation to the Seimas (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 21 January 1997), Radio Lithuania reported. That decision will
anger the ruling coalition of Conservatives and Christian Democrats,
which had called for Nikitinas's ouster. It will also likely expedite
the passage of a law allowing the justice minister, rather than the
president, to nominate the prosecutor-general. However, the
Conservatives accepted Brazauskas's recommendations on the law
reorganizing the Genocide of Lithuania's Population and Resistance
Center, which he had previously refused to sign. -- Saulius Girnius

POLAND TO CRACK DOWN ON DRUGS. Marek Papala, the new chief of the Polish
police, has announced that a special 400-strong narcotics bureau will
start operating in March, international media reported on 12 February.
The bureau is to fight drug-related crime by stamping out international
drug trafficking routes across Polish territory, closing down
laboratories that manufacture amphetamines (of which Poland is Europe's
main source), and coordinating the activities of other state
institutions involved in combating crime. The police are also lobbying
for legal measures penalizing drug ownership. Moreover, a special unit
may be created to fight child abuse and trading in women for
prostitution, Papala said. Last year, 97 cases of cross-border drug
smuggling were registered, compared with 69 in 1995. Officially
registered drug addicts total 20,000, compared with 14,000 in 1990. --
Beata Pasek

CZECH PARLIAMENT BEGINS DISCUSSING CZECH-GERMAN DECLARATION. A majority
of deputies on 11 February voted in favor of the ruling coalition's
proposal to start discussing the Czech-German declaration immediately
rather than toward the end of the current parliamentary session, Czech
media reported. Earlier that day, the parliamentary caucus of Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) rejected an
agreement between Klaus and opposition Social Democratic Chairman Milos
Zeman that the parliament adopt an accompanying statement to the
declaration. The ODS's coalition allies had previously ruled out such a
possibility. As expected, deputies of the extreme-right Republican Party
tried to obstruct the parliamentary debate on the declaration by holding
lengthy speeches. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT REJECTS PENAL CODE AMENDMENT. Opposition deputies on
11 February cheered the parliament's failure to approve the penal code
amendment on the protection of the republic, international media
reported. The highly controversial legislation drew sharp criticism when
it was first passed last March; the parliament approved a milder version
of the amendment in December. But the opposition remained opposed and
President Michal Kovac vetoed the second version. The Association of
Workers (ZRS)--a junior coalition partner--was split over the issue.
Also on 11 February, one left-wing opposition deputy was appointed to
the new parliamentary committee overseeing the secret service, while
other opposition candidates were rejected. The new committee monitoring
military intelligence includes one representative each from the
opposition Democratic Union and the leftist coalition. -- Sharon Fisher

JUNIOR COALITION PARTNER TO INITIATE TALKS ON EARLY ELECTIONS IN
SLOVAKIA. Slovak National Party (SNS) Chairman Jan Slota on 11 February
called for coalition talks on early parliamentary elections, CTK
reported. The SNS plans to discuss the issue at the next coalition
meeting. According to Slota, the balance of power in the parliament
between the coalition and opposition is now 50:50, which he sees as a
reason for early elections. Slota expressed regret about the
parliament's failure to approve the penal code amendment, which he
considers a law that could make "order in disordered Slovakia" and could
stop Slovaks in southern Slovakia from feeling that they live in
Hungary. He also said it was irresponsible of deputies from the ZRS and
others to have voted against the amendment. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN RAILROAD PRESIDENT STEPS DOWN AS NEW SCANDAL LOOMS. Sandor Kis
Kalnoki, president of the Hungarian State Railroad company MAV, has
resigned, Hungarian media reported on 11 February. Kalnoki's resignation
comes just ahead of the release of the final results of an investigation
into MAV's finances. That investigation was launched late last year by
Transport Minister Karoly Lotz. MAV's losses at the end of 1996 stood at
15.7 billion forints ($98.1 million). Kalnoki is reported to have been
involved in arranging adverse business deals between a company called
Ples and the state railroads. Such deals may have cost MAV as much as 1
billion forints. Meanwhile, opposition leader Jozsef Torgyan told the
parliament that MAV incurred losses by buying useless and outdated
Romanian freight cars. He also alleged that MAV awarded contracts worth
hundreds of millions of forints without issuing a tender. -- Zsofia
Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL SAYS SLOVAKIA VIOLATES BASIC TREATY. Foreign Ministry
spokesman Gabor Szentivanyi on 11 February said the Slovak government is
violating the Hungarian-Slovak basic treaty and international agreements
by banning bilingual school reports, Hungarian media reported.
Szentivanyi warned that the Hungarian government will appeal to
international organizations to protest school reports issued only in
Slovak. He also reiterated Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs's call for the
Slovak parliament to enact a minority language law. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN LOCAL LEGISLATORS DECLINE TO DECLARE STATE OF EMERGENCY.
Democratic Party (PD) deputies from the southern city of Vlora have
rejected Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi's proposal that a state of
emergency rule be imposed there. Former deputy Prime Minister Dashamir
Shehi said, "We cannot send troops and tanks into our city..., there is
always room for dialogue. This is not solved with truncheons," Reuters
reported on 12 February. Meksi said the government backed the local
party leaders, and he proposed again a meeting with opposition parties.
Socialist Party and Democratic Alliance leaders, Namik Dokle and Neritan
Ceka, paid a visit to the family of Artur Rustemi, who was killed on 10
February (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February 1997). They also addressed
the more than 30,000 mourners at his funeral. Meanwhile, some 10,000
demonstrators rallied in the city center but later dispersed without
incident. Police appeared to have abandoned the city, while protesters
today are reported to have set up new barricades. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CALLS FOR PEACEFUL PROTESTS. The Forum for Democracy
has called for a peaceful demonstration in Tirana today, Gazeta
Shqiptare reported. Police on 11 February patrolled the streets of the
capital and dispersed crowds. The Socialist Party reiterated their call
for a political dialogue with President Sali Berisha, while the
Republican Party withdrew from the ruling coalition and called for the
government's resignation. Greece has asked the EU to consider sending
aid to Albania but has also stepped up border patrols, fearing increased
illegal migration, AFP reported. Meanwhile, ATSH reported that Vlora is
facing a shortage of food and that prices have increased by 25% there.
The city's port has been closed since 5 February. -- Fabian Schmidt

SERBIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON RECOGNIZING ELECTION WINS. Serbian
legislators on 11 February voted to adopt "in principle" a law paving
the way for recognition of opposition wins in the November municipal
elections, international media reported. Members of the opposition
Zajedno coalition have expressed both guarded optimism and skepticism
about Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's intention to honor the law.
They stressed that protests against the regime will continue. Democratic
Party leader Zoran Djindjic remarked that "the adoption of the bill has
solved [only] one problem--[that] of the election theft."
Ultranationalist deputies, notably from the Serbian Radical Party (SRS),
attempted to stonewall the debate and walked out before the vote. SRS
leader and accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj has said he will contest
the law's validity in court. -- Stan Markotich

SERBIAN GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE. The Serbian parliament has endorsed
changes in the cabinet lineup, Vecernje novosti reported on 12 February.
Seven ministers have been dismissed and 13 new ones appointed; of the
latter all belong either to the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia or
Mirjana Markovic's (wife of President Slobodan Milosevic's) Yugoslav
United Left. The most controversial appointment is that of Radmila
Milentijevic as information minister. Milentijevic, who has reportedly
lived in the U.S. for some 45 years, is a hard-line defender of
Milosevic's regime. -- Stan Markotich

ILLEGAL EVICTIONS CONTINUE IN MOSTAR. UN police have said that 26
illegal evictions of Muslim families living in the Croat half of Mostar
were reported during the night from 10-11 February, according to AFP.
The evictions followed clashes between Muslims and Croats that,
according to UN sources, resulted in one dead and more than 30 wounded
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February 1997). Meanwhile, Bosnian Croat
police have set up roadblocks preventing Muslims living in the Croat-
controlled districts to return to their homes following visits to their
relatives living in the eastern, mostly-Muslim half of Mostar during the
Islamic religious holiday of Bajram. UN spokesman Kris Janowski said the
Croats were not allowing anyone in and were therefore violating freedom
of movement. Meanwhile, Croat media reported a spate of Muslim assaults
on Croat motorists on the main highway northeast of town, and said two
had gone missing, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Croatian and Bosnian
presidents Franjo Tudjman and Alija Izetbegovic have met to discuss the
Mostar crisis, Hina reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

PLANS AFOOT FOR "SNATCH SQUADS" FOR BOSNIA? Pentagon officials on 11
February said that Washington is consulting with its allies on how to
bring war criminals to justice but that no firm plans have been made,
AFP reported. The previous day, the London Daily Telegraph ran a story
claiming that "a series of 'snatch operations' [to catch war
criminals]...has reached the detailed planning stage, diplomatic and
military sources have disclosed." The article suggested that SFOR would
provide support and that all 66 war criminals on the loose would
probably be rounded up at once. It also intimated that UN observers
would be withdrawn before the operation began and that the force would
probably consist of elite British, French, and U.S. units under their
own national commands. But the paper, which has close ties to the
Foreign Office, hinted that some "senior British sources" are concerned
lest the project expose British troops on the ground to retribution. --
Patrick Moore

CROATIAN ELECTIONS TO BE POSTPONED? The local vote slated for 16 March
seems likely to be put off until 13 April, Slobodna Dalmacija wrote on
12 February. An agreement to that effect appeared to have been reached
by President Franjo Tudjman and UN Gen. Jacques Klein early this week.
Klein stressed that conditions will not be right in Serb-held eastern
Slavonia before then, while the Croats want the elections to go ahead
everywhere at the same time in order to emphasize that eastern Slavonia
has been reintegrated into Croatia. Some Zagreb opposition party
leaders, however, want the elections to take place as soon as possible.
They see the delay as a conspiracy between a pro-Serb international
community, Serbs anxious to stay free of Croatian control, and a
governing party in Croatia that fears defeat at the polls. -- Patrick
Moore

ROMANIAN SENATE GRANTS FOREIGNERS RIGHT TO OWN LAND. In an attempt to
lure foreign investment, the upper house on 11 February passed a law
allowing foreign companies to buy land in Romania. The new legislation
had been hotly debated both in the parliament and in the media; and the
slogan "We won't sell out our country," frequently invoked during the
past seven years, was voiced many times. Victor Ciorbea's government is
eager to create incentives for foreign investors. To date, direct
foreign investment in Romania totals just over $2 billion since 1990.
The bill has still to be approved by the lower house, the Chamber of
Deputies. -- Zsolt Mato

BATURIN ON RUSSIAN TROOPS IN MOLDOVA. Russian Defense Council Secretary
Yurii Baturin, on the first day of his visit to Chisinau, said that
Russia will withdraw its troops from Moldova's Dniester region when the
political conflict there is resolved and not when NATO demands that they
be withdrawn, international media reported on 11 February. NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana, visiting the Moldovan capital the
previous day, asked Russia to pull out its troops from eastern Moldova
in compliance with OSCE recommendations. Solana had met with senior
Moldovan officials, including President Petru Lucinschi and Foreign
Minister Mihai Popov, to discuss possible NATO enlargement. Baturin's
statement is likely to escalate the war of words between Russia and the
West over NATO's plans to expand eastward. Meanwhile, the Moldovan
Foreign Ministry said there was no connection between Solana's and
Baturin's visits. -- Dan Ionescu

NEW BULGARIAN CABINET GRANTED WIDE POWERS. The outgoing Socialist
government on 11 February conferred sweeping powers on the new caretaker
government, despite having balked at the idea previously, Bulgarian
dailies reported. The new cabinet has the authority to negotiate with
international organizations and leaders in order to deal with the
nation's economic crisis, including the serious food shortage. President
Petar Stoyanov, who chaired the multiparty proceedings that led to an
agreement on the interim government (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February
1997), hailed the accord as a major political breakthrough and "a
historic and political consensus." The deal has still to be approved by
the parliament. In other news, 300 army officers continued their protest
over wages. They complain that they have received only a 60% increase,
while other state wages have doubled in recent weeks. -- Stan Markotich

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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