In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires. - Ben Franklin
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 33, Part II, 17 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

ROUNDUP OF GEORGIAN PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO UKRAINE. Eduard Shevardnadze
ended an official two-day visit to Ukraine on 14 February, Ukrainian and
international agencies reported. Shevardnadze and his Ukrainian
counterpart Leonid Kuchma signed nine documents on cooperation,
including agreements on double taxation, trade and economic cooperation,
and cooperation over customs and border issues. Trade between Ukraine
and Georgia is expected to reach $500 million this year, up from $180
million in 1996. Talks also touched on cooperation over energy supplies.
Ukraine is interested in a project to modernize an oil pipeline from
Azerbaijan to Georgia. Ukraine produces pipes and other equipment for
the gas and oil industries. Both presidents voiced skepticism over the
viability of the CIS. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN PARTIES CHOOSE ELECTORAL PRIORITIES AND ALLIES. Ukrainian
Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, speaking at his party's closed
session, said the Communists would form an electoral alliance with other
leftist forces, such as the Socialists and the Peasants' Party,
Ukrainian television reported on 15 February. The same day, the centrist
pro-presidential movement New Ukraine held its fifth congress in Kyiv.
The leader of the movement, presidential administration head Yevhen
Kushnaryov, warned against the growing influence of the left, Russian
television reported. Kushnaryov said New Ukraine considers Russia and
other CIS countries Ukraine's long-time partners. Parliamentary
elections are scheduled for 1998; the presidential election follows in
1999. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

PRESIDENT FIRES MINISTERS. Kuchma fired Agriculture Minister Anatolii
Khorishkov and Deputy Transportation Minister Leonid Zheleznyak on 14
February, international agencies reported. Although he did not connect
the sackings to corruption, Kuchma announced the action at a meeting of
a presidential committee on organized crime and corruption. In early
February he had said his government was going to crack down hard on
corruption, which had "infected a significant part of the state
apparatus." -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

IMPRISONED BELARUSIAN EX-BANK CHIEF TAKEN TO HOSPITAL. Former head of
the National Bank of Belarus Tamara Vinnikova was taken from her prison
cell to the hospital on 14 February, Reuters reported. Vinnikova was
fired by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka a month ago and imprisoned on
charges of causing damage to the state during the time she headed
Belarusbank. In solitary confinement since her dismissal, she had
appealed to be released on health grounds and promised not to leave
Minsk. The court rejected her appeal on 14 February, but her condition
worsened the same day, so she had to be moved to the hospital. Vinnikova
has maintained that she is not guilty. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN YOUTH MARCH AGAINST PRESIDENT. Over 3,000 people, mostly
students, held an unauthorized demonstration on 14 February in downtown
Minsk to protest President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's authoritarian rule
and his pro-Russian policies, international agencies reported. The
demonstrators delivered a petition to the embassies of some Western
countries, criticizing the restoration of the "Soviet empire." The rally
ended outside the television tower, where police dispersed the crowd
with tear gas and truncheons. At least 30 demonstrators were reported
arrested. Meanwhile, the Institute of Sociology of the state-funded
Academy of Science reported that, in a recent public opinion poll, 83%
of respondents supported Lukashenka's pro-Russian policies and 55%
backed his way of handling corruption. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

POLISH INTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER ON RUSSIAN SABOTAGE. Zbigniew
Siemiatkowski said in Rzeczpospolita 15 February that Russian secret
agents are preparing "provocations" to sabotage Poland's efforts to join
NATO and the EU. Siemiatkowski said that the Russians had been stepping
up their diplomatic contacts with politicians from Poland's ruling and
opposition parties, there had been attempts to seize large sections of
the Polish economy with Russian capital, and there was a Russian
offensive in political and media circles. He said Polish
counterintelligence is particularly aware of Russian activities and that
no political orientation, including his own Democratic Left Alliance, is
immune to Russian efforts at infiltration. He also cited Russian
pressure to establish a military base in Latvia and said Russia is
behind the recent Lithuanian bank crisis. Siemiatkowski left on 16
February for a four-day visit to Germany to discuss cooperation between
the Polish and German secret services. -- Jakub Karpinski

EU URGES SLOVAKIA TO PASS MINORITY LANGUAGE LAW. European Commissioner
Hans van den Broek on 13 February warned Slovakia that it must respect
democracy and human rights if it hopes to remain in the running for EU
membership, Reuters reported the next day. The statement followed talks
in Brussels with Slovak Deputy Premier Katarina Tothova. Although he
welcomed the parliament's rejection of the penal code amendment on the
protection of the republic, van den Broek said the cabinet's failure to
submit a minority language law -- despite its promise to do so following
the state language law's approval in November 1995 -- remained a major
EU concern. During a Slovak TV debate on 16 February, Slovak National
Party deputy Jozef Prokes said a minority language law is currently
being prepared, CTK reported. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER INSISTS ON BANK PRIVATIZATION. Vladimir Meciar on
14 February announced that the government will ask President Michal
Kovac to return the law on state-owned strategic companies to the
parliament for reappraisal, CTK reported. The law, approved on 13
February, prevents the privatization of the four biggest Slovak banks
until 2003 and was supported by the opposition and by the Association of
Workers, a junior partner in the ruling coalition. Stressing that the
privatization of banks is essential, Meciar said he plans to connect the
vote on the bank privatization law with a vote of confidence in his
government. He said his government had promised the OECD that it would
end the current ban on bank privatization, which lasts until late March.
Party of the Democratic Left deputy chairwoman Brigita Schmoegnerova
said Meciar is misinterpreting the OECD membership conditions for
Slovakia. She offered to hold a public discussion with Meciar on those
issues. -- Anna Siskova

HUNGARIAN RULING PARTY BEGINS ELECTION PREPARATIONS. During a weekend
meeting of top officials from the Socialist Party, Prime Minister Gyula
Horn warned that unjustified internal disputes are damaging the party's
image, Hungarian media reported on 17 February. The Socialists discussed
how to alter their tone to appear as an authentic left-wing party for
next year's parliamentary elections. The party's executive board said
recently there are three reasons for the party's falling popularity:
price increases, the privatization scandal involving consultant Marta
Tocsik, and internal party disputes. The latest opinion polls, conducted
by Sonda Ipsos, put Horn in 25th place in popularity. Young Democrat
Tamas Deutsch, who chairs the commission on Tocsik, rose to second
place, behind President Arpad Goncz. Meanwhile, statistics released on
14 February showed that real wages fell by 5.4% last year. According to
Napi Gazdasag, inflation is expected to reach 16%-19% in 1997. -- Sharon
Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

EXPLOSIONS CONTINUE IN MOSTAR. Seven explosions rocked the Croat-
controlled part of the divided Herzegovinian city on 14 February in a
terror campaign against minority Muslims, AFP reported citing SFOR. The
next morning, two mortar rounds were fired at the Muslim half of the
city but injured no one. Use of mortars represents a serious escalation
of violence in the unstable Muslim-Croat federation, which has recently
been shaken by serious conflicts between the two peoples. Of 35 Muslim
families that were expelled from their homes in Croat-held west Mostar
last week, only 16 have returned with the help of SFOR and the UN
police, a UN spokesman said on 15 February. In other news, the overnight
curfew in the federation was abolished on 14 February after more than
four years, Oslobodjenje reported. But federal Interior Minister Mehmed
Zilic said a curfew will remain in effect in Mostar "until the tensions
calm down." -- Daria Sito Sucic

DUBIOUS SETTLEMENT OF THE BRCKO DISPUTE. International mediator Roberts
Owen on 14 February put off a settlement of the thorny Brcko issue until
15 March 1998 (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 February 1997), news agencies
reported. His interim solution is to leave the Serbs in charge of the
river port while creating the office of "international supervisor" to
monitor the return of Croat and Muslim refugees and economic
reconstruction. It is not clear exactly what powers this new official
will have or how he or she will enforce compliance. Owen's program
guarantees freedom of movement and the right of refugees to go home, but
those provisions are already included in the Dayton agreement and have
been neither respected nor enforced. -- Patrick Moore

MIXED RECEPTION OF BRCKO DECISION. U.S. special envoy John Kornblum said
that Owen's package was "definitely enough" to prevent fighting from
starting again, news agencies reported on 14 February. The international
community's High Representative Carl Bildt warned, however, that "it is
sometimes easier to write a thing in a Washington law firm than to do it
on the ground" and added that the reconstruction of Brcko will cost at
least $200 million. The Bosnian Serb member of the joint Bosnian
presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik, was skeptical of Owen's plan, but
Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic was more upbeat, saying the
decision opens the way to investment and prosperity. Bosnian Muslim
leader Alija Izetbegovic said Owen's announcement "is not justice, but a
step toward justice." Other Muslims and Croats were more optimistic,
saying the plan gives them direct access to what had been Serb-held
territory. In short, persons on both sides of the former front line
could view the glass as half empty or half full. -- Patrick Moore

KLEIN SAYS MOST SERBS WILL STAY IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. The UN
administrator for eastern Slavonia, Jacques Klein, said only about
15,000-20,000 of the 120,000 Croatian Serbs living in eastern Slavonia
would leave for neighboring Serbia, Reuters reported on 16 February.
Eastern Slavonia is the last Serb-held region slated to revert to the
Croatian government's control. "[Those who will leave] are Serb
nationalists who simply cannot live in a Croatian Catholic state -- and
they include war criminals, people with guilty consciences," Klein said.
The UN Transitional Authority in Eastern Slavonia said some 650 Serb
households have left the area since June 1996, 450 of them in the first
half of February alone, following the UN Security Council's backing of
the Croatian government's letter of intent for peaceful reintegration.
But more than 40,000 Serbs have meanwhile obtained Croatian citizenship
papers in order to vote and keep their property and jobs. -- Daria Sito
Sucic

SERBIAN POLITICAL OPPOSITION CALLS HALT TO DEMONSTRATIONS. Leaders of
the Zajedno coalition on 15 February said they will suspend the marathon
mass demonstrations for three weeks to allow the ruling Socialists time
to ease restrictions on state media, international media reported. The
decision followed the government's recognition of opposition wins in the
17 November municipal elections. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic,
addressing some 10,000 people in downtown Belgrade on 15 February, said:
"Our three goals were getting back our election victory, achieving a
freeing-up of the media, and fair electoral conditions prior to the next
voting. We achieved the first, but not the other two. ... We'll give
[the Socialists] three weeks, until March 9, and see what happens."
Zajedno has said that it will call for renewed demonstrations should the
government continue to conduct itself in bad faith. In other news, on 16
February, UN human rights envoy Elisabeth Rehn met with Serbian
opposition leader Vesna Pesic and with peaceful protesters beaten by
police. -- Stan Markotich

STUDENTS, TRADE UNIONISTS CONTINUE TO DEMONSTRATE. Student and
independent labor leaders have continued with street protests despite
the Zajedno announcement, Nasa Borba reported on 17 February. An
estimated 5,000 students gathered in downtown Belgrade the previous day
to demand the sacking of the pro-government, hard-line rector of
Belgrade university and the indictment of those responsible for the
electoral fraud. Meanwhile, Serbian Premier Mirko Marjanovic has met
with the leaders of state unions, notably those representing elementary
and secondary teachers, over demands for increased pay. But independent
labor leaders such as Jagos Bulatovic have said that the government
negotiations will not be binding on independent teachers, who reserve
the right to continue with their protests and job action, Radio Index
reported. -- Stan Markotich

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNS TORTURE IN KOSOVO. Amnesty International
on 16 February called for an end to the torture and abuse of political
detainees in Kosovo. The human rights organization mentioned one case of
a prisoner who had recently disappeared in police custody and said it
was "concerned that courts in Kosovo province frequently have based
their verdicts against ethnic Albanians ... on statements which
defendants have retracted in court, claiming they had been obtained by
force." Police say they are holding 66 people accused or suspected of
terrorist attacks in Kosovo this year. Kosovo Albanian officials said
they have a record of 55 held in custody after police operations against
the Kosovo Liberation Army. Several released prisoners said they had
been beaten and tortured with electric shocks. -- Fabian Schmidt

ROMANIAN COALITION PARTY SPLITS. A dissenting wing of the National
Liberal Party-Democratic Convention (PNL-CD), which is a member of the
Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) and of the ruling coalition, on
15 February suspended party chairman Nicolae Cerveni, Romanian
television reported. The dissidents oppose a protocol on unification
Cerveni signed with several liberal parties that are not members of the
CDR. They also reproach Cerveni with having failed to forcefully promote
members of the PNL-CD for ministerial posts. In response, Cerveni said
the 14 dissidents will be expelled from the party at a meeting of its
National Council, scheduled for 22 February. Among the dissidents is
Sorin Stanescu, minister of youth and sports. -- Dan Ionescu.

MOLDOVA RECALLS AMBASSADOR TO BONN. President Petru Lucinschi recalled
Moldova's ambassador to Germany, Infotag reported on 14 February. The
decree had already been signed in January but was only recently
published. Ambassador Alexandru Burian was involved in a conflict with
the leadership of the Foreign Ministry in the second half of 1996, when
he alleged that there were violations linked to the opening of a
consular office in Frankfurt. Tapes of telephone conversations between
the ambassador and the presidential office in Chisinau were leaked and
broadcast in what some observers considered to be an attempt to
embarrass former President Mircea Snegur. A special commission set up to
investigate the affair recommended sacking Burian but Snegur did not
follow the commission's recommendations. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN UNION OF DEMOCRATIC FORCES BECOMES PARTY. The Union of
Democratic Forces (SDS), during its ninth National Conference on 15 and
16 February, decided to turn the SDS into a single party rather than an
alliance of so far 15 member organizations in light of the upcoming
elections and a likely SDS-led government, Kontinent and Duma reported.
The parties making up the SDS will be transformed into associated
organizations within the new party. In addition, SDS Chairman Ivan
Kostov was re-elected by a near-unanimous vote, and an 11-member
National Executive Council was elected to run the SDS. Candidates for
the upcoming parliamentary elections will be elected in U.S.-style
primaries. The SDS will propose common candidates with other opposition
parties. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS FACE DISASTER IN APRIL ELECTIONS. A poll published
in the Bulgarian Socialist Party's (BSP) daily Duma on 17 February
suggests that the Socialists could suffer a humiliating defeat in the 19
April elections. According to the nationwide poll conducted in late
January, the BSP would garner only 12% as opposed to 43% for the SDS.
The People's Union would get 2%, well under the 4% threshold needed to
gain parliamentary representation. The mainly ethnic-Turkish Movement
for Rights and Freedom would get 4%, and the Bulgarian Business Bloc 7%.
Just 7% would go to all other parties. Some 23% of respondents said they
will not vote. Meanwhile, the BSP Supreme Council elected party leader
Georgi Parvanov as head of the party's election campaign center. Former
Interior Minister Nikolay Kamov, former Foreign Minister Georgi
Pirinski, and former parliamentary Economics Commission Chairman Nikola
Koychev will be his deputies. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PROTESTS CONTINUE. Sporadic violence and anti-government
demonstrations continued throughout the weekend in Vlora, Fier, and
Saranda but were quieter than in previous weeks, Reuters and AFP
reported. No riot police were seen, in a new strategy by the government
not to oppose marches outside the capital. In Tirana, however, police
put on a show of force to prevent a rally called by the opposition Forum
for Democracy on 16 February from taking place. Meanwhile, Vlora Mayor
Gezim Zile called on the government to resign, the first Democrat leader
to do so. President Sali Berisha acknowledged that the government had
committed errors and had warned the public too late about the dangers of
pyramid investment schemes. But he said responsibility also lies with
the investors. He stressed that the state has no intention of taking the
debt on its shoulders. -- Fabian Schmidt

CRIME SPREADS IN VLORA, ALBANIA. Five men were wounded, four of them
seriously, in gang violence in Vlora in recent days, according to the
Interior Ministry. The men, aged between 17 and 28, suffered knife and
gunshot injuries. A flourishing trade in illegal immigrants,
prostitutes, and drugs has sprung up since police pulled out on 11
February, AFP reported. Smugglers have recovered 135 boats confiscated
by police a year ago. Around 50 have been patched up and are commuting
to Italy two to three times a day. Greek border guards have been placed
on maximum alert in the mountainous border region. Greece has sent a
police helicopter and two warships to the border. Meanwhile, the
Albanian Defense Ministry has begun legal action for libel against a
journalist of The Independent who wrote an article alleging the ministry
was involved in arms trafficking and linking the government to organized
crime. --  Fabian Schmidt

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Susan Caskie

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