Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man. - Leon Trotsky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 31, Part II, 13 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

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT GRANTS IMMUNITY TO FUGITIVE FORMER PREMIER.
Legislators voted 253 to 19 to grant former acting Prime Minister Yufim
Zvyahilsky immunity from arrest if he returns to Ukraine within two
months, Reuters and Russian Public TV reported on 12 February.
Zvyahilsky took refuge in Israel in 1994 after being accused of
embezzling $25 million in public funds. Israel turned down Ukraine's
request for his extradition two years ago. Zvyahilsky has repeatedly
claimed that his political enemies made the embezzlement charges. The
Ukrainian parliament voted in favor of granting him immunity so that he
can return to cooperate with the Prosecutor-General's Office in its
investigation of the case. -- Ustina Markus

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT IN UKRAINE. Eduard Shevardnadze arrived in Kyiv on 13
February for a two-day official visit, ITAR-TASS reported. He was
accompanied by his ministers for trade and transport and the commander
of the Georgian border guards. Talks will focus on bilateral
cooperation, and some 15 documents are expected to be signed. The same
day, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Borys Hudyma said Ukraine was
prepared to send observers to Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zones. He added
that Ukrainian officials would discuss with Shevardnadze the possibility
of having peace-keepers there. The conflict zones are currently
patrolled by Russian peacekeepers, whose mandate expires at the end of
March. Both sides involved in the conflict would have to give their
consent to Ukraine's send its peacekeepers to those zones. So far, the
Abkhaz side has refused to do so. -- Ustina Markus

POLITICAL INTIMIDATION CONTINUES IN BELARUS. Aleksandr Stupnikov, NTV
correspondent in Belarus, was summoned to the Belarusian Foreign
Ministry on 12 February to receive an official warning about NTV's "non-
objective" coverage of events in Belarus. He was informed that the
Belarusian Foreign Ministry wrote last week to its Russian counterpart
complaining about NTV's Belarusian coverage and warning that if such
reporting continued, Belarus would have to consider suspending NTV's
activities in Belarus. The previous day, the office of the Party of
Communists of Belarus (PCB) was sealed off because it allegedly was in
breach of fire safety regulations, Belapan reported. PCB leader Syarhei
Kalyakin denounced the move as a political act instigated by the
president's administration. Kalyakin had sided with deputies opposed to
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's new constitution during the November
1996 referendum. Also on 11 February, Anatol Lyabedzka, a deputy of the
dissolved 1996 parliament, was beaten at the entrance to his apartment
block by unknown assailants. Lyabedzka claimed the attack was intended
to intimidate him because of his political activities. -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC STATES REJECT RUSSIAN WARNING NOT TO JOIN NATO. Foreign Ministry
officials from all three Baltic States have rejected a warning by the
Russian president's office that membership in NATO would create a
"serious barrier" and have "a most negative impact" on long-term
cooperation, BNS reported on 12 February. Vygaudas Usackas, head of the
Political Department at the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, said a stable
NATO region would contribute to the further development of Lithuanian-
Russian relations. Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs said Latvia's
wish to consolidate its security through NATO membership would not be a
threat to Russia. Juri Arusoo, spokesman for the Estonian Foreign
Ministry, reinforced that viewpoint. -- Saulius Girnius

NEW LATVIAN GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED. Prime Minister-designate Andris Skele
on 12 February made public the cabinet list he plans to present to the
Saeima today, BNS reported. The most significant change in the cabinet
lineup is the replacement of Maris Grinblats of the For the Fatherland
and Freedom caucus as education and science minister by Juris Celmins of
the Democratic Party Saimnieks (DPS). The finance portfolio, also
assigned to the DPS, has not yet been filled. Skele rejected the DPS
nomination that its chairman, Ziedonis Cevers, be appointed to that
post. Meanwhile, other parties belonging to the ruling coalition have
expressed support for the DPS continued participation in the government.
-- Saulius Girnius

CONTROVERSY OVER POLISH AGRICULTURE MINISTER. The Supreme Executive
Committee of the co-ruling Polish Peasant Party (PSL) has nominated
Jaroslaw Kalinowski to replace Roman Jagielinski as deputy prime
minister and agriculture minister, international media reported on 13
February. The PSL blamed Jagielinski for the food trade deficit and the
low prices of grain and livestock. Jagielinski, for his part, has said
he is not going to resign, pointing out that only the PSL Supreme
Council can withdraw party support for him. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz is to take the final decision whether to replace him. He has
already said he will n not decide until Jozef Zych, Sejm speaker and PSL
Supreme Council head, returns from the U.S. The PSL is anxious about its
dwindling support among farmers in the wake of parliamentary elections
due this fall. Last November, Jagielinski, a large landowner,
unsuccessfully challenged Waldemar Pawlak for the party leadership.
Kalinowski, endorsed by the Smallholders, is a Pawlak supporter. --
Beata Pasek

CZECH OPPOSITION LEADER DEMANDS RESOLUTION ON DECLARATION. Parliamentary
speaker and Social Democratic Party Chairman Milos Zeman on 12 February
urged the parliament to approve the Czech-German declaration only if an
accompanying resolution is passed "clarifying" the Czech position, Czech
media reported. In the declaration, Bonn expresses regret over the 1938-
45 Nazi occupation of the Czech Lands and Prague voices sorrow for the
post-war expulsion of 2.5 million Sudeten Germans. Both sides say they
will not burden bilateral relations with legal and political claims
arising from the past. Zeman and some Social Democrats point out that
the declaration does not mention the Potsdam agreements that sanctioned
the expulsions. Zeman said comments made by German Chancellor Helmut
Kohl after he signed the document and by Finance Minister Theo Waigel
more recently show that Bonn considers "property problems" to remain
unresolved. The Czech coalition government has rejected an accompanying
resolution. -- Jiri Pehe

GERMAN LEADER ON SLOVAKIA'S WESTERN INTEGRATION. German Bundestag
Chairwoman Rita Suessmuth, concluding a two-day visit to Slovakia on 12
February, said Germany "does not want an isolated Slovakia," Reuters
reported. Suessmuth is the most senior German official to visit Slovakia
since that it gained independence. She expressed Germany's wish that
Slovakia join Western organizations at the same time as the Czech
Republic but stressed that Slovakia's "deficit in democracy" must first
be overcome. Western diplomats praised the parliament's refusal the
previous day to approve the "protection of the republic" penal code
amendment. However, they added that other steps are needed to
demonstrate Slovakia's sincerity in meeting Western democratic
standards. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar claimed in a TV discussion the
same day that the disputed amendment is not "undemocratic" and will be
approved later this year, CTK reported. Also on 12 February, the
parliament approved a law on the protection of non-smokers and Meciar's
party submitted a proposal calling for a referendum on NATO membership.
-- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK RULING PARTY PROPOSES TALKS WITH LEFTIST OPPOSITION. Party of the
Democratic Left (SDL) Chairman Jozef Migas on 12 February announced he
has received an offer for bilateral talks from the ruling Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), Narodna obroda reported. No details were
given on the timing and agenda of the discussions. Migas said the SDL
wants to discuss unemployment, low wages, control over privatization,
and reform of the banking sector. "We will not accede to purposeful
political games and will not rescue the HZDS or the government
coalition," Migas stressed. Other opposition parties have not received
such an offer. In an interview with Pravda, Migas rejected accusations
by the daily Sme that he has met several times with Slovak Information
Service deputy director Jaroslav Svechota. In other news, both
opposition and ruling coalition politicians have more or less rejected
Slovak National Party Chairman Jan Slota's call for early parliamentary
elections, TASR reported on 12 February. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARY'S FREE DEMOCRATS IN FAVOR OF SMALLER PARLIAMENT. The Alliance of
Free Democrats (SZDSZ), the junior coalition party, has said it is in
favor of reducing the number of deputies from 386 to 250-300, Nepszava
reported on 13 February. SZDSZ leader Peter Hack said the party will
also propose that the traditional 11-week election campaign be reduced
to eight weeks and that the campaign funds available to each party be
reduced. The Free Democrats would like private contributions to election
campaigns not to exceed 50,000 forints, while the ceiling for legal
entities would be set at 500,000 forints. In 1994, some entrepreneurs
practically "bought" their parliamentary mandates by contributing
several million forints to election campaigns. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN POLICEMAN SHOT DEAD IN VLORA. A policeman, identified as Shezai
Zani, was killed by automatic gunfire on 12 February near his home in
Vlora, Reuters reported. Police said Zani was guarding "places of
special importance" and had not taken part in this week's clashes
between police and rioters. It remains unclear if he was killed in
revenge for the death of three anti-government protesters last weekend.
Earlier the same day, some 5,000 people staged peaceful protests and set
up barricades in all the main streets. Police have kept away from the
city, and the local police station has reportedly been abandoned. More
than 20 speedboats confiscated on charges of smuggling last year were
reclaimed by their owners, with no resistance from the police.
Meanwhile, international criticism of the government's handling of the
crisis has intensified. The OSCE has said it is "deeply worried" about
the on-going violence. -- Fabian Schmidt

ALBANIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADER RULES OUT GOVERNMENT CHANGES.
Democratic Party leader and Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu, following a
day-long meeting with senior party officials, again blamed the current
violence on "leftist extremists," Reuters reported. He also ruled out
the possibility of any cabinet changes. Some news agencies, however,
quoted party sources as saying the possible resignation of the
government was high on the agenda of the meeting. Meanwhile, riot police
in Tirana prevented the opposition from holding a protest rally and also
broke up small gatherings of people. The Socialist Party said police
have arrested a member of its presidency and many of its supporters. The
Forum for Democracy pledged more protests and demanded the resignation
of the government. It also called on all members of the armed forces,
policemen, soldiers, and officers, "to join with the people." -- Fabian
Schmidt

BELGRADE DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE. An estimated 20,000 students turned
out on the Serbian capital's streets on 12 February to press their
demands for political reform. A group of teachers who have not received
wages in months formed a ring around the legislature, international
media reported. Nasa Borba on 13 February carries a statement by Ivan
Kovacevic of the Serbian Renewal Movement pointing out that the 11
February passage of special legislation recognizing opposition wins in
the November elections is only a first step toward securing electoral
victories. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic ought not to be trusted
to allow the opposition to take office until at least local councils are
convened and municipal governments formed, Kovacevic commented. -- Stan
Markotich

SERBIAN GOVERNMENT ON THE OFFENSIVE? Only days after the passage of the
legislation recognizing opposition elections wins, the ruling Socialists
appear to be waging a new media campaign against the Zajedno coalition.
An editorial in the 12 February issue of Politika Ekspres, which was
also read out during state television newscasts the same evening,
suggested that Zajedno leaders were "conniving" and deliberately
reneging on promises. "From the moment...that a favorable solution for
Zajedno was absolutely certain, it became clear that the promise made by
[Zajedno leader] Vuk Draskovic...that mass demonstrations would stop as
soon as parliament recognized the election results would come to
nothing," the editorial claimed. Meanwhile, parliamentary speaker Dragan
Tomic told state radio that the protests were "horrible...[and] a threat
to citizens who don't think the same way" as the protesters. -- Stan
Markotich

CROATS, MUSLIMS REACH DEAL ON MOSTAR. SFOR stepped up its patrols in the
divided Herzegovinian city on 12 February in an effort to put a stop to
a fresh outbreak of violence that threatens the future of the Croatian-
Muslim federation, international news agencies reported. They dismantled
illegal checkpoints and confiscated weapons. Overnight, there were
nonetheless three explosions--one in Muslim-dominated east Mostar and
two in the Croat-controlled western half of the town. International
mediator Michael Steiner and the UN police (IPTF) met late into the
night with Croatian leader Kresimir Zubak and with Muslim leaders Alija
Izetbegovic and Haris Silajdzic. They agreed on a 12-point program that
gives the IPTF increased powers to control the town and detain those
responsible for the shooting earlier this week in which Croats killed
one Muslim and wounded 22 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 11 February 1997).
Telephone contacts between the two parts of the town will be restored
and SFOR's presence strengthened. The curfew will stay in effect and
persons evicted from their flats will be allowed to go home. -- Patrick
Moore

SFOR BRACES FOR BRCKO DEADLINE. Peacekeepers have ordered Muslim and
Serbian soldiers near the strategic northern Bosnian town to return to
their barracks as the 14 February deadline approaches for the U.S.
arbitrator's decision on Brcko's fate. SFOR troops on 12 February
confiscated and intend to destroy a Serbian T-55 tank that was spotted
outside its authorized storage place, Oslobodjenje wrote. Brcko was the
one territorial issue that it proved impossible to resolve in the Dayton
peace accord. The Serbs need it to connect the eastern and western
halves of their territory, while the Muslims and Croats demand that the
"ethnic cleansing" there be reversed. Both sides have threatened war if
the other is assigned the town. The most likely outcome is probably a
complicated scheme of shared authority and international supervision,
which, as demonstrated by Mostar, is unlikely to work. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIAN ELECTIONS POSTPONED. President Franjo Tudjman on 12 February
announced that the vote for the upper house of the parliament and local
government offices has been postponed until 13 April, Hina reported (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 12 February 1997). Voting had been slated for 16
March, but the UN administrator for Serb-held eastern Slavonia, Jacques
Klein, said conditions there would not be ready for the March deadline.
He urged the Croats to speed up the distribution of citizenship papers,
and the Serbs to respect the April election date, Novi List wrote. The
Croatian government wants eastern Slavonia to vote at the same time as
the rest of the country to underscore that it is again part of Croatia.
-- Patrick Moore

ROMANIA TO RESTORE CITIZENSHIP TO EXILED KING. The Romanian government
on 12 February announced it will take immediate measures to restore
citizenship to exiled King Michael, Romanian media reported. The move is
in response to a letter, signed by 21 leading intellectuals, appealing
to Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea to redress the injustice done to
Michael in 1948 by the Communists. Seventy-five-year-old Michael, who
was dethroned and forced into exile in late December 1947, now lives in
Versoix, Switzerland. He welcomed Ciorbea's decision as "an act of
justice" and also responded positively to an invitation from the mayor
of Iasi to visit the city in the near future. According to Adevarul,
Michael wants to re-settle in Romania. -- Zsolt Mato

RUSSIAN CONTINGENT IN MOLDOVA TO BE DOWN-SIZED. Russian Defense Council
Secretary Yurii Baturin on 12 February said Russian troops in eastern
Moldova will be considerably reduced in number by the fall, BASA-press
reported. Baturin promised that Russia will act in the spirit of the
October 1994 Russian-Moldovan agreement on the withdrawal of Russian
troops from the Dniester region. That accord has never gone into effect
owing to the Russian State Duma's refusal to ratify it. Baturin also
said he believed that "historical ties between Moldova and Russia are
strong enough to prevent the former from moving closer to NATO." His
comments came one day after he had rejected NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana's appeal for the complete withdrawal of the 6,500-strong
Russian contingent in Moldova. -- Dan Ionescu

NEW BULGARIAN PREMIER, CABINET SWORN IN. Bulgarian President Petar
Stoyanov on 12 February swore in a caretaker cabinet headed by Sofia
Mayor Stefan Sofiyanski, international media reported. There are no
Socialist ministers in the reduced, interim government. Sofiyanski is an
economist who was elected mayor of Sofia in October 1995. Stoyanov urged
him to make one of his government's top priorities fighting crime and
"purging the administration of corrupt officials." The parliamentary
parties have agreed to dissolve the legislature today, and the new
government has been granted the authority to tackle the country's
ongoing economic crisis. Also, the date for new parliamentary elections
has been set for 19 April, Demokratsiya reported on 13 February. -- 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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