You can't fake listening. It shows. - Raquel Welch
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 38, Part II, 24 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 SETS UP POLITICAL COUNCIL. Leonid Kuchma has signed
a decree setting up a presidential Political Council, Ukrainian TV and
ITAR-TASS reported on 21 February. The council is an advisory body whose
task is to ensure that the views of the country's political forces are
taken into account when state policy is being decided. The members of
the council are leaders of nine centrist political parties. Former
Deputy Premier Oleksander Yemets has been appointed secretary of the
council as well as presidential adviser for political and legal issues.
Yemets is one of the leaders of the pro-presidential centrist bloc Nova
Ukraina. Meanwhile, current Deputy Premier Viktor Pynzenyk has said that
corruption among government officials is slowing the reform process,
Reuters reported on 22 February. One of the strongest advocates of
reform in Ukraine, Pynzenyk also criticized the parliament for dragging
its heels on the passage of a reform package submitted in November. --
Oleg Varfolomeyev

UPDATE ON UKRAINIAN-NATO RELATIONS. U.S. representative Porter Goss,
visiting Ukraine this weekend as a member of a congressional delegation,
said NATO will offer Ukraine special status at the July summit in Madrid
launching the expansion of the alliance, AFP reported on 22 February.
The previous day, ITAR-TASS reported that the Party of Citizens of
Ukraine have decided to establish an anti-NATO "club," along the lines
of the one in the Russian State Duma. The Ukrainian club opposes both
NATO expansion and Ukraine's membership in the alliance. Meanwhile, a
demonstration of 500 people took place in Sevastopol on 23 February to
protest relations between Ukraine and NATO. Radio Mayak reported an
anti-NATO demonstration also took place in Simferopol. Demonstrators
demanded that the Crimean authorities stop the alleged secret talks on
making Sevastopol a base of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. -- Ustina Markus

EMPTY-POTS DEMONSTRATION IN MINSK. Several hundred women marched through
downtown Minsk on 22 February to protest plummeting living standards,
international agencies reported. To stress their plight, they banged on
empty cooking pots as they made their way through the capital's streets.
The demonstration was organized by the previously unknown Working
Women's Organization and was backed by the Belarusian Popular Front.
Demonstrators blamed Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka for
falling living standards and demanded his resignation. The police stood
by but did not try to break up the rally. Also on 22 February, ITAR-TASS
reported Belarusian Defense Minister Alyaksandr Chumakau as saying the
reorganization of the armed forces into an army composed of 113,000
troops had been completed. That statement contradicts previous
statements on the size of Belarus's armed forces. Last year, the armed
forced were reported to be around 70-80,000 strong. -- Sergei
Solodovnikov and Ustina Markus

BELARUS IMPOSES VAT ON UKRAINIAN GOODS. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
on 21 February signed a decree imposing an unspecified VAT on Ukrainian
goods imported into Belarus, Ukrainian and Belarusian Radio reported.
The decree is aimed at bringing Belarus's legislation into line with
Russia's. Goods produced jointly by Belarus and Ukraine will not be
affected by the new decree. Trade between the two countries stood at
$1.5 billion in 1996, with Kyiv registering a surplus. The following
day, AFP reported that Lukashenka has once again railed against Russia
over the customs union. He was quoted as saying he will scrap plans for
closer integration if Russia does not dismantle customs controls on the
Belarusian-Russian border. -- Ustina Markus

BRITISH AID TO JOINT NAVAL UNIT OF BALTIC STATES. British Deputy Defense
Minister Frederick Howe, at the start of his three-day visit to
Lithuania, said that his country supports setting up Baltron, a joint
Baltic destroyer squadron, BNS reported on 21 February. Britain will
assist in the training of seamen and donate some equipment, while
Germany, the U.S. and several Nordic countries have also promised to
offer help. Howe met with Defense Minister Ceslovas Stankevicius, armed
forces commander in chief Gen. Jonas Andriskevicius, and members of the
Seimas National Security Committee. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN SEIMAS SPEAKER IN POLAND. Vytautas Landsbergis, addressing
the Sejm in Polish on 21 February, proposed talks on setting up an
interparliamentary body that would meet regularly for consultations and
long-term cooperation. He told a news conference later that such a body
might consist of 20 delegates from each country's legislature, but he
added that it was up to the two parliaments to work out the details.
Landsbergis also criticized Russian efforts to block NATO enlargement,
noting that Lithuania, like Poland, wants to be admitted to NATO and the
EU. Recalling the many historical links between Lithuania and Poland, he
urged the two countries to put aside differences in the pursuit of
common goals. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH PRIME MINISTER AT NATO HEADQUARTERS. Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz
visited NATO headquarters in Brussels on 21 February to meet with the
ambassadors of the alliance's member countries. He said Poland expects
to be invited to attend NATO's July summit in Madrid, and he urged
Western countries not to cut a deal with Russia over the heads of other
countries. Any deal with Moscow, he argued, should be "transparent" and
should take into account the concerns of non-members. Poland would not
accept any arrangement making it a "second-class" member of the
alliance, Cimoszewicz said. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECH PRESIDENT CRITICIZES NATO. Vaclav Havel, in his weekly radio
address on 23 February, argued that current problems over NATO expansion
can be attributed partly to the West's indecisiveness. "In a way, the
West is now reaping the fruits of its own indecisiveness. Four years
ago, Russia was basically indifferent to whether NATO would expand,"
Havel commented. He noted that Boris Yeltsin had taken a "liberal
attitude" toward the question of NATO expansion during his visit to
Prague in 1993. At that time, the Russian president had said that the
Czech Republic was a sovereign state and that Russia had no right to
prevent it from entering any international organization. According to
Havel, the West's conservatism and its inability to deal with challenges
posed by the Iron Curtain's fall had "directly prodded Russia into
beginning to resist NATO expansion." -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK THEATER EMPLOYEES TO GO ON STRIKE. Slovak theater employees on 22
February went on strike to protest the Ministry of Culture's failure to
meet trade union demands, Slovak media reported. The unions demanded one
week ago, among other things, that state-run theaters become independent
legal entities and that theater directors be selected in open
competitions. Many of the theaters taking part in the strike are
government-funded. Premier Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak Radio on
22 February, said the strike violated agreements with the government and
called the unions' demands "purely political." He suggested that theater
employees set up their own private theaters so that they themselves can
decide "about everything, including economic questions." -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PETITION DRIVE FOR DIRECT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS DRAWS TO CLOSE.
The petition drive for a referendum on whether the Slovak president
should be elected directly ended on 23 February, Slovak media reported.
Organized by seven opposition parties, the drive lasted for 46 days. One
week ago, the petition committee announced that it had already collected
more than the 350,000 required signatures. The coalition parties are
opposed to a referendum, saying it is illegal to try to change the
constitution through a plebiscite. But the opposition parties want a
vote on direct presidential elections to take place in June. -- Jiri
Pehe

HUNGARIAN FARMERS LAUNCH PROTEST. The National Federation of Hungarian
Farmers have started a three-day protest today against tax and social
insurance laws that took effect on 1 January, Hungarian media reported.
The decision to stage the protest came after the federation broke off
talks with Finance and Agriculture Ministry officials at the end of last
week. The farmers intend to block roads in 200 locations throughout the
country. Meanwhile, the government has renewed its offer to reach a
compromise on several parts of the law but has ruled out revoking the
law. -- Zsolt Mato

ANOTHER VICTIM OF HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL. Sandor Puskas,
president of the supervisory board of the State Privatization and
Holding company (APV), submitted his resignation on 21 February,
Vilaggazdasag reported. Board members requested that he resign after it
was revealed that he had attended all APV meetings discussing the hiring
of Martha Tocsik, the independent expert who received a record
consultancy fee. The State Auditing Office, which has the power to
appoint the APV supervisory board chief, has not yet named Puskas's
replacement. Board members have said they would like to see Jozsef
Saling, a board member representing the Interest Coordination Council,
as the next president. -- Zsolt Mato

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MONTENEGRIN PREMIER SLAMS SERBIAN PRESIDENT. Montenegrin Premier Milo
Djukanovic, in an interview with the weekly Vreme on 21 February, heaped
criticism on Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, saying the Serbian
president is "incompetent" to lead the country. "Milosevic is a man
whose politics are obsolete, [and he] is incapable of making a strategic
assessment of the challenges facing our state. It would be politically
wrong to keep him in any political position in Yugoslavia," said
Djukanovic. Milosevic, meanwhile, has used state television to fire back
at his critics. One day after the Vreme interview, one TV commentary
dubbed Djukanovic a traitor, saying the Montenegrin premier is bent on
jeopardizing national interests. -- Stan Markotich

MYSTERIOUS DEATH IN KOSOVO PRISON. The pro-Milosevic Belgrade daily
Politika Ekspres reported on 24 February that the 30 year-old ethnic
Albanian Besnik Restelica died in police custody recently because he
hanged himself in his cell. The paper suggested he feared reprisals from
his own people after having confessed to the involvement in the
clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK). Members of the Albanian
community, however, said the young man had been tortured to death as
part of a tough crackdown on suspected members of the UCK, international
news agencies wrote. Meanwhile, the National Movement for Liberation of
Kosovo (LKCK) has called for an "armed uprising" against Serbia. It also
attacked the ethnic Albanian political establishment for its "pacifist
politics which are in the interest of Serbia and not of their own
people," AFP wrote. -- Patrick Moore

ANOTHER ATTACK ON SFOR IN MOSTAR. In an second attack on the NATO-led
Stabilization Force within two days, assailants threw a hand grenade at
an Italian armored vehicle in Mostar on 21 February, international
agencies reported. Four Italian soldiers traveling in the vehicle at the
time of the attack were unhurt. A NATO spokesman said the identity of
the assailants, who escaped by car, was unknown. Following the first
attack (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 February 1997), the SFOR commander in
Mostar, Gen Yves le Chatelier, said he would use the 10,000 men under
his command to "do whatever is necessary to remove all forces that
threaten us," AFP reported. Meanwhile, Valentin Coric, the Croatian
police chief in Mostar, has said that charges have been filed against 11
prominent Muslims in connection with Muslim-Croatian clashes in the city
earlier this month. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIA URGED TO PROTECT ALL REMAINING SERBS. U.S. Ambassador Peter
Galbraith said that the reintegration of eastern Slavonia into Croatia
will succeed only if Serbs all over Croatia feel secure, Novi List wrote
on 23 February. He said that Croatian Serbs and Croats alike should be
able to return to their homes anywhere in Croatia in safety. Galbraith
also urged the reintroduction of the Serbs into the political process,
which Zagreb has already promised it will do. -- Patrick Moore

TUDJMAN TO SEEK RE-ELECTION AS PRESIDENT. The ruling Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ) announced at its annual congress on 23 February that
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman will run in the presidential elections
scheduled for later this year, Vecernji list reported on 24 February.
The pro-government daily Vjesnik commented last week that Tudjman's
candidacy demonstrates that the Croatian leader "has recovered from his
illness very well, is in good health, and has reached his former
condition". Tudjman, reported to be ill with cancer, will run for his
third term in office. As founder and leader of the HDZ, he won the first
democratic elections in Croatia some seven years ago. -- Daria Sito
Sucic

FRENCH PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. Jacques Chirac, during a state visit to
Romania on 21-22 February, held talks with his Romanian counterpart,
Emil Constantinescu, Premier Victor Ciorbea and other senior Romanian
officials, including former President Ion Iliescu, international media
reported. Chirac is the first foreign head of state to pay an official
visit to Romania since the victory of democratic forces in the November
1996 elections. Talks focused on Romania's efforts to join European and
Euro-atlantic structures and how to boost bilateral trade and French
investment in Romania. Chirac repeated his country's support for
Romania's integration into NATO in the first wave of admissions. -- Dan
Ionescu

ROMANIAN NATIONALIST LEADER OUSTED, EXILED KING'S CITIZENSHIP RESTORED.
The Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) on 22 February ousted its
leader, Gheorghe Funar, blaming him for the party's poor showing in the
November elections, Radio Bucharest reported. Valeriu Tabara, a former
agriculture minister, has been elected interim president until the
party's national convention, scheduled for next month. He said the party
will change its anti-Hungarian nationalist stance. Meanwhile, the
Romanian government has restored the citizenship of former King Mihai
and his family, international media reported on 21 February. In a first
reaction, the royal household said the act was contributing to "national
reconciliation" at a time when "sacrifices are demanded of all
Romanians." Mihai, who lives in Switzerland, has announced he will pay a
six-day visit to Romania beginning 28 February. -- Zsolt Mato and Dan
Ionescu

BULGARIA'S EURO-LEFT ELECTS LEADERSHIP. The 3,000 or so members of the
new Euro-Left party have elected a 20-strong political council and
Alexander Tomov as party chairman, Reuters and Duma reported. Tomov is
chairman of the Civic Union of the Republic (GOR), one of the three
groups that belong to Euro-Left. The other two groups are the Movement
for Social Humanism and a group of Bulgarian Socialist Party deputies
opposed to former Premier Zhan Videnov, who recently left the party.
Euro-Left espouses the principles of social democracy and aims at
membership in the Socialist International. It will participate in the
campaign for the April parliamentary elections. -- Maria Koinova

WORLD BANK RECOMMENDATIONS TO BULGARIA. During his visit in Bulgaria on
23 February, World Bank Director for Southeastern Europe Kenneth Lay
said that speeding up reforms was the only way to solve the current
economic crisis in Bulgaria. He recommended the liberalization of fuel
and grain prices and the lifting of import and export duties on grain as
a way to avert shortages. Lay also said that the World Bank is ready to
grant another loan to help the unemployed after the closure of
unprofitable enterprises. According to 24 Chasa, he also commented that
the government could sell off 100% the Bulgarian Telecommunications
Company if the highest possible price were to be paid. -- Maria Koinova

TURKEY TO EXPEL BULGARIAN TURKS. Turkey plans to expel an estimated
200,000 Turkish Muslim Bulgarian citizens who do not have the proper
documentation to reside in Turkey, Western media reported on 21
February. Balkan Muslim emigre groups in Turkey are asking the Turkish
Interior Ministry to review the expulsion decree, which is due to go
into effect on 1 April. -- Lowell Bezanis

PROTESTS CONTINUE IN ALBANIA . . . At least 5,000 people staged a
peaceful, if noisy, protest in the southern port of Vlora on 23
February, Reuters reported. It was the 19th straight day of
demonstrations there following the collapse of several pyramid schemes
in which many Albanians lost their life savings. The protesters on 21
February rejected an offer by President Sali Berisha to compensate them
with assets from a local salt mine and gas station. The next day, a
state commission announced that investors in the collapsed Gjallica
scheme would get only a fraction of their money back. The pyramid, which
had attracted much money in Vlora, had $145 million in debts but only
$28 million in assets. The protesters also expressed their support for
53 hunger-striking students, who have blockaded themselves in the
university since 20 February to demand the resignation of the government
of Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi. -- Patrick Moore

. . . WHILE BERISHA LASHES OUT AT FOES. Berisha has meanwhile continued
to give speeches across the country in connection with his expected re-
election to the presidency in March. His return to office seems a
foregone conclusion, since the president is elected by the parliament,
which is controlled by Berisha's Democratic Party (PD). Speaking in
Shkoder on 22 February, he repeated his charge that "the communists" are
trying to foment unrest as a means to retake power. He earlier slammed
14 members of his own party, including former cabinet ministers who had
joined in the calls for Meksi to resign, the BBC reported. German media
noted that the government has taken an increasingly shrill tone against
Voice of America and Deutsche Welle's coverage of the disturbances. --
Patrick Moore

[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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