Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 37, Part II, 21 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

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT BLASTS RUSSIA. In an interview published in
Nezavisimaya gazeta on 20 February, Leonid Kuchma blamed Russia for the
poor state of Russian-Ukrainian relations. Kuchma said he was optimistic
when Yevgenii Primakov was appointed Russian foreign minister but that
since then there has been no improvement in relations and "the biased,
prejudiced attitude toward Ukraine has intensified." He said Russia
still views Ukraine as a constituent part, or at least within the
Russian sphere of influence. As a result, there has been a cooling in
economic ties and the free-trade agreement has not been fully
implemented. Kuchma said the Russian presidential campaign and the
"political games" in Russia prevented the signing of the treaty on
friendship and cooperation with Ukraine. The criticism is Kuchma's
strongest public statement yet, Reuters reported. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINE DENIES PLANS TO LEASE SEVASTOPOL TO NATO. A group of Russian
deputies sent a letter to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma alleging
that Kyiv officials are holding secret talks on leasing Sevastopol to
the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet in exchange for early admission to NATO,
Ukrainian radio reported on 20 February. A copy of the letter was sent
to Interfax. Ukrainian National Security Council Secretary Volodymyr
Horbulin denied the allegations and said such publications work only to
hurt Russian-Ukrainian relations. The publication of the letter
coincided with a visit from a U.S. congressional delegation to
Sevastopol. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINE SEEKS INVESTORS. Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko
announced a government program to attract $3.7 billion to 4.0 billion of
foreign investment, UNIAN reported on 19 February. The tax burden will
be reduced, and the state's share in privatized enterprises will not
exceed 26% (except for strategic facilities, of which the government
will retain 51% ownership). Ukraine has so far managed to attract only
$1.5 billion in direct foreign investment. Meanwhile, pressure from
directors has led to the government's overturning an earlier resolution
that banned enterprises from writing off mutual debts, Intelnews
reported on 19 February. The ban was introduced in January because
writing off inter-enterprise debts had led to a decline in budget
revenue. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

UKRAINE CONDEMNS WESTERN RELUCTANCE TO FINANCE NUCLEAR REACTORS.
Environment Minister Yurii Kostenko said Ukraine may reconsider closing
the Chornobyl nuclear plant if the West does not finance the building of
two new reactors to replace it, UNIAN and ITAR-TASS reported on 20
February. But a panel of EBRD advisors concluded that the financing of
new reactors at Rivne and Khemlnitsky could not be approved on economic
grounds, AFP reported on 19 February. The environmental group Greenpeace
called on the EBRD and the EC to withdraw from negotiations over
completion of the partially built reactors. -- Oleg Varfolomeyev

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON UNION WITH RUSSIA. Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on
19 February that union with Russia remains a foreign policy priority,
but not at the cost of sovereignty, NCA reported. Speaking at a closed
joint session of parliament, he called for the implementation of the
1996 treaty on creation of a Belarusian-Russian union. Lukashenka said
he will never agree to a Russian proposal that Belarus become part of
the Russian Federation and be ruled by a governor-general who would also
be vice-president of the merged state. Kremlin spokesman Sergei
Yastrzhembskiy denied that any such proposal had been made by Russian
President Boris Yeltsin or the government. -- Sergei Solodovnikov

ESTONIA, FINLAND AGREE TO VISA-FREE TRAVEL. The heads of the Estonian
Foreign Ministry Consular Department and Finnish Foreign Ministry Legal
Department Sulev Roostar and Holger Rotkirch on 20 February in Tallinn
initialed an agreement for visa-free travel between the two countries
starting 1 May, BNS reported. The agreement will be signed by the
foreign ministers on 26 March in Tallinn. Half of the 200,000 visas
issued by Estonia's representations abroad come from its embassy in
Helsinki. Estonia already has visa-free travel with Denmark and is
expected to sign similar agreements with Sweden and Norway later this
year. -- Saulius Girnius

CHANGES IN LATVIAN PARLIAMENT CAUCUSES. The number of caucuses in the
Saeima fell from nine to seven on 20 February when the For Freedom and
Justice (TN) and Unity Party (LVP) caucuses ceased to exist, BNS
reported. Five of the six TN members and LVP caucus head Edgars Bans
joined the Democratic Party Saimnieks caucus, raising its membership
from 18 to 24. Bans's departure,, which reduced the size of the caucus
to one less than the required five, prompted another LVP deputy to shift
to the Farmers' Union. The other members of the former caucuses have not
yet decided whether to join other parties or remain as independent
deputies. -- Saulius Girnius

REGISTRATION FOR LITHUANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. A total of 6,432 candidates
from 24 political parties have been registered for the elections on 23
March to 1,484 seats in 56 city and raion councils. The ruling
Conservatives have the most candidates (1,410), followed by the
Christian Democrats (979), the Democratic Labor Party (742), the Center
Union (643), and the Social Democrats (613). The Center Party lodged an
official complaint on 20 February to the Supreme Election Commission
against the decision of its Siauliai district to cross out the name of
Center Party candidate environmentalist Valdas Adamkus, one of the most
popular men in Lithuania, because he has both U.S. and Lithuanian
citizenship, BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH RULING PARTY TO DISCLOSE ASSETS. A Warsaw court ordered the
Social Democracy of the Polish Republic (SdRP) to submit an account of
its assets, Polish media reported on 21 February. The motion was made by
government-appointed liquidators of the property formerly belonging to
the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR), which became the SdRP at the
January 1990 congress. The SdRP incurred debt after continuing to use
PZPR property, which now belongs to the state. The party says that its
coffers are empty and it had to use profits from PZPR property to cover
obligations to the old PZPR apparatus. Liquidators countered that the
SdRP spent heavily on the election campaign. The SdRP owes 1 million
zloty ($330,000) plus interest, and liquidators have asked for another
20 million. An SdRP representative said the party will not appeal the
ruling. -- Beata Pasek

CZECH PREMIER IN CANADA. After meeting with Czech Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus, who is on a week-long visit to Canada, Canadian Prime Minister
Jean Chretien said on 20 February it was time to live up to promises to
enlarge NATO despite Russian misgivings, international media reported.
Chretien said he backed membership by the Czech Republic, Poland,
Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Romania, though he noted they would not
all be able to join in the first stage of expanding the alliance. "The
time has come for us to live up to our promise. When the Czech Republic
decided to become a democracy and to become a market economy, we said
clearly at the time that it should become a member of NATO one day,"
Chretien said. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK RULING COALITION HEADED FOR COLLAPSE? Association of Workers
(ZRS) Chairman Jan Luptak on 20 February said his party is determined to
support the bill banning bank privatization even if it is linked to a
confidence vote in the government, TASR reported. Still, Luptak said he
does not want to break up the ruling coalition and does not support
early elections. He said it would be sad if the ruling coalition
collapsed because of bank privatization. The ZRS will ask the National
Bank of Slovakia for an inspection of the country's four largest banks,
to be carried out by the Supreme Supervisory Office or by independent
auditors. Also on 20 February, a poll released by the Focus agency
showed that Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar is still the most trusted
politician in Slovakia. Meciar had the trust of 20.7% of respondents,
followed by Parliament Chairman Ivan Gasparovic with 17.4% and President
Michal Kovac with 16.3%. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK ROUNDUP. Some 400 Slovak cultural representatives on 20 February
gathered in Bratislava to protest against government cultural policies,
Slovak media reported. The meeting was called by the Save Culture forum
that was established last year following Culture Minister Ivan Hudec's
interference in the Slovak National Theater's internal affairs. The
group called for Hudec's resignation and appealed to the Culture
Ministry to return cultural institutions' independence. In other news,
President Michal Kovac has won a lawsuit against the pro-government
daily, Slovenska Republika, CTK reported on 20 February. In fall 1995,
the daily had published several articles about Kovac's alleged Austrian
bank account. An obviously forged bank statement published by the daily
showed large sums of money. The court ruled that the paper must publish
an apology, and it ordered the daily's former editor in chief, Jan
Smolec, to pay the president 500,000 crowns ($16,000) in damages. --
Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK MINORITY LANGUAGE LAW DISCUSSED IN BUDAPEST. Max van der Stoel,
the OSCE high commissioner on national minorities, met with Hungarian
Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs on 20 February in Budapest, Reuters
reported. Van der Stoel urged Slovakia to pass the long-delayed law on
minority languages. Kovacs recently appealed to Slovakia to approve the
law, saying Bratislava is violating international commitments by
delaying the legislation. Since financial penalties for violating
Slovakia's state language law went into effect in January, Hungarian-
language schools have stopped issued bilingual grade reports, which has
caused great controversy among ethnic Hungarian parents. In other news,
the International Court of Justice on 20 February announced that it will
open hearings on 3 March on the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam dispute between
Slovakia and Hungary. -- Sharon Fisher

PHILIPS TO BUILD PLANT IN HUNGARY. Officials from the Dutch electronics
group Philips on 20 February announced plans to build a car radio plant
in Gyor in northwestern Hungary, AFP and Hungarian media reported. The
factory, which will start production next July, will have the capacity
to manufacture 5 million car radios annually, primarily for export.
Philips plans to invest 30 million dollars in the plant over the next
two years. The factory will initially employ 600-800 workers and
eventually 1,000. Philips has already invested $80 million in Hungary
and employs 5,200 workers. -- Sharon Fisher

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SFOR ATTACKED IN MOSTAR, BOSNIA. An armored vehicle of the NATO-led
Stabilization Force was hit by a tank rocket on 21 February on the
former front line in the divided southern city of Mostar, AFP reported.
No one was injured. According to a spokesman, the rocket came "from the
western [Croat-held] side of the river." Meanwhile, SFOR has withdrawn
the accreditation of a UNHCR official in Mostar, Jacques Franquin, who
had said that SFOR troops were "useless" during the Muslim-Croat clash
in Mostar on 10 February that resulted in one dead and over 30 wounded.
Franquin was declared persona non grata for his comments, described as a
"personal and individual assessment," AFP reported on 19 February. In
other news, UN human rights envoy Elisabeth Rehn visited Mostar on 20
February and called for the resignation of those responsible for the
recent violent incident. Rehn called on the Croatian government to exert
pressure on Bosnian Croats to respect human rights in Herzegovina. --
Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIA FAILS TO AGREE ON COMMON ECONOMIC RULES. The Bosnian Council of
Ministers on 20 February failed to adopt a quick-start package of draft
laws because of differing opinions of the two Bosnian entities composing
the council, Onasa reported. One of the council's two co-chairmen, Haris
Silajdzic, a Muslim, said the officials discussed draft laws on
privatization, property restitution, and ownership relations and agreed
on rules of procedure. While Silajdzic says that such laws are the
responsibility of Bosnia and the Council of Ministers, the Serbian co-
chairman, Boro Bosic, says they are the responsibility of the respective
entities. The council also discussed an unpaid gas bill of the Republika
Srpska, for which the Russian gas supplier GazExport threatens to cut
off gas supplies to Bosnia. Bosic said the Republika Srpska will pay its
part of the debt. GazExport will significantly reduce gas deliveries to
Bosnia starting 24 February, Onasa reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SERBIAN UPDATE. Zoran Djindjic, head of the Democratic Party and a
leader of the opposition Zajedno coalition, is to become Belgrade's
first non-communist mayor in 52 years on 21 February, local independent
media reported. Djindjic said reform of the state-run electronic media,
controlled by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, is his priority.
"Starting March 9, we will demonstrate daily in front of the [state-run]
television," he said. In unrelated news, Vladan Kovacevic (also known as
Vlada Tref), a 39-year-old business partner of Milosevic's son Marko,
was gunned down in a hotel parking lot on 20 February. -- Stan Markotich

MACEDONIAN STUDENTS CONTINUE PROTESTS AGAINST ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE TUITION.
Several thousand ethnic Macedonian students on 20 February continued
their protest against a new law introducing lessons in Albanian at the
teacher-training faculty (see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 February 1997), AFP
reported. It was the fourth consecutive day of protest against the law.
The protesters called for the resignation of Education Minister Sofija
Todorova. Despite the protests, the teacher-training faculty at Skopje
university went ahead with lessons in Albanian and said it was
recruiting teachers. -- Stefan Krause

INFLATION REACHES NEW RECORD IN ROMANIA. The monthly inflation rate rose
to a record 13.7% in January, Romanian and Western media reported. The
surge follows recent steps taken by the government to deregulate
currency rates and prices and eliminate subsidies for energy and
staples. The measures are part of a shock therapy program aimed at
healing the ailing Romanian economy. Radio Bucharest quoted Romanian
National Bank Director Mugur Isarescu as saying that the annual
inflation rate for 1997 would be 90%, less than a 97% forecast made by
Premier Victor Ciorbea. -- Dan Ionescu

FRENCH PRESIDENT ON ROMANIA AND NATO. In an interview with the Bucharest
daily Adevarul published on 20 February, Jacques Chirac said he tried to
gather support for Romania's application to join NATO during recent
talks with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He praised
Romania's democratic change of power of last November and the "historic
accord" with Hungary signed last September. Chirac said that Romania is
"very important [for NATO], especially for the southern flank" and that
France will spare no efforts to convince its NATO allies that Romania
must be part of the first wave of enlargement. The French president is
expected today in Bucharest for a two-day visit. -- Zsolt Mato

ROMANIAN PRISONERS' PROTEST SPREADS TO NINE CITIES. The protest of
Romanian inmates against poor living conditions, started on 17 February
in Bucharest, has spread to nine cities across the country, Libertatea
reported on 21 February. While most of the protesters are peacefully
hunger striking, in some prisons the inmates have become violent,
setting fire to their prisons. (See OMRI Daily Digest, 20 February) --
Zsolt Mato

ROMANIA'S CURRENT, FORMER PRESIDENTS DUEL OVER PRIVILEGES. Former
President Ion Iliescu rejected a proposal by current President Emil
Constantinescu that the parliament passes a law granting Iliescu a flat,
a car, and a team of bodyguards. He described the offer as
"hypocritical" since, he said, it came after a series of political
attacks on him. Iliescu added that he wanted a "public apology" instead
of "acts of reparation" and stressed that he already owns a flat, which
he bought while still president. The prime minister's control office,
however, recently denounced as "illegal" Iliescu's purchase of an
apartment that had been nationalized by the Communists in the 1950s. --
Dan Ionescu

NEW PARTY SET UP IN MOLDOVA. Some 400 delegates in Chisinau on 19
February set up a new party, BASA-press reported. The new formation, the
United Labor Party of Moldova (PUMM), defines itself as a centrist party
in quest of a "third way," distinct from capitalism and socialism. PUMM
leader Andrei Safonov, a leading political scientist in Moldova's
breakaway Dniester region, said his organization will favor market
economy reforms while promoting a high level of social protection. --
Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA'S EMPLOYMENT, FOOD, ENERGY WOES DEEPEN. Unemployment in
Bulgaria reached 13.4% in January, the highest level since July 1994,
Pari reported on 21 February. Observers fear that unemployment may
double this year after a currency board is introduced. Meanwhile, the
country's bread shortage has worsened, with Sofia having only enough
flour for 5-6 days; caretaker Premier Stefan Sofiyanski said wheat will
be taken from the state's reserves to fill the gap. Bulgargas has
stopped supplying Russian gas to 63 industrial plants that did not pay
their bills for January and February. The current price covers only one-
third of the cost of the gas, for which the Russians now demand full
advance payment in hard currency. Finally, the interim cabinet on 20
February set up a Structural Reform Council to negotiate with the IMF
and World Bank on industrial reforms. -- Michael Wyzan

BULGARIAN INTERIM PREMIER ON NUCLEAR PLANT. Stefan Sofiyanski on 20
February said the controversial Kozloduy nuclear power plant should not
be shut down, RFE/RL reported. Sofiyanski reacted to a statement by
Energy Minister Georgi Stoilov the previous day that Kozloduy is highly
dangerous and the risk from it is "above the socially acceptable
limits." Sofiyanski refused to comment on the reactor's security and
said he has not discussed the issue with Stoilov. Kozloduy's director,
Kiril Nikolov, called the plant "absolutely safe." In other news, former
Tsar Simeon II sent a letter to royalist organizations saying he will
publicly distance himself from them if they fail to unite before the
April elections, 24 chasa reported. Various monarchist organizations
will meet in Varna on 22 February to decide on a joint electoral list,
separate from the main opposition Union of Democratic Forces. -- Stefan
Krause

MORE VIOLENCE IN ALBANIA. As protests against the government of
President Sali Berisha, triggered by the collapse of a series of pyramid
schemes, continued into a sixth week in Tirana, violence once again
surfaced. Riot forces prevented some 1,000 supporters of the opposition
from marching to the central part of the capital, Reuters reported.
Marchers hurled stones at the police, who retaliated with shots into the
air. Meanwhile, some senior members of the Democratic Party on 20
February urged the government to resign, AFP reported. -- Stan Markotich

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Susan Caskie

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