When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary. - Anonymous
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 39, Part II, 25 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

UKRAINE TO UNILATERALLY DEMARCATE BORDER WITH RUSSIA? An unnamed
Ukrainian official has said Ukraine is ready to unilaterally demarcate
its border with Russia if a second meeting of the Russian-Ukrainian
subcommission on border issues does not take place in March, ITAR-TASS
reported on 24 February. The official said that although Ukraine is
prepared to press ahead, it would be preferable for the two sides to
jointly determine their common border. He noted that without Russia's
participation, Ukraine will not be able to optimally demarcate the
border in areas where towns straddle both sides of the frontier or where
the natural contours of the landscape will make demarcation difficult.
-- Ustina Markus

UKRAINE TO PRODUCE NUCLEAR FUEL. Ukrainian nuclear officials said
Ukraine intends to start supplying its five nuclear power plants with
fuel rods beginning in 2001, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 February. Russia
has being supplying Ukraine with nuclear rods until now to compensate
for the nuclear warheads Ukraine has shipped to Russia. That arrangement
runs out in 1998. Ukraine also plans to set up a joint venture with
Russia and Kazakhstan to manufacture nuclear fuel rods, officials said.
-- Oleg Varfolomeyev

BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES DENY MALTREATMENT OF FORMER BANK CHAIRWOMAN.
Prosecutor-General Aleh Bazhelka, speaking on national television on 23
February, denied that former National Bank of Belarus chairwoman Tamara
Vinnikova is being held for political reasons or has been maltreated. He
refused to disclose details of her case in order not to impede his
office's investigation. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka dismissed
Vinnikova in early January and had her arrested for embezzlement.
Bazhelka said he had agreed to talk about the case in order to dispel
rumors in the media of her mistreatment or the political nature of the
case. He warned that the Information Ministry would decide what to do
about newspapers that published stories casting doubt over the
legitimacy of her detention. Commenting on Vinnikova's health, Bazhelka
said doctors monitor prisoners who are kept in isolation. Vinnikova was
moved to a hospital in mid-February, but doctors saw no reason for not
continuing to keep her in isolation, he added. -- Ustina Markus

INTERNATIONAL FACT-FINDING MISSION SUBMITS REPORT ON BELARUS. Aad Kosto,
head of a six-member mission of representatives from the OSCE, the EU,
and the Council of Europe, has submitted to EU foreign ministers an oral
report about the political situation in Belarus, international agencies
reported on 24 February. Although the report was highly critical of
President Lukashenka, there was no mention of the state of democracy in
Belarus. They did comment, however, that the situation there is "not
satisfactory" and that they will use "economic and political means" to
pressure Belarus to restore democratic norms and freedom of speech. --
Sergei Solodovnikov

LATVIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TALKS RESUME IN MOSCOW. Following a hiatus of
more than three months, Latvian and Russian delegations resumed border
talks on 24 February in the Russian capital, BNS reported. Aivars Vovars
remains head of the Latvian delegation, while former ambassador to Japan
Lyudvig Chizhov is leading the Russian side. This meeting is the first
of its kind since Latvian Prime Minister Andris Skele hinted that Latvia
is willing to drop its demand that the border treaty mention the 1920
Riga treaty between Latvia and Soviet Russia. Under that treaty, Latvian
territory was several thousand square kilometers larger than it is
today, but Russia has refused to discuss changing borders. -- Saulius
Girnius

POLISH PARLIAMENT DEBATES DRAFT CONSTITUTION. A joint session of the
Sejm and the Senate has begun debating the draft constitution drawn up
the parliamentary Constitutional Committee, Polish media reported on 24
February. Until now, the so-called "small" constitution has been in
force. Passed in October 1992, that document is supplemented by
communist-era basic law, which has been repeatedly amended since 1989.
Both the Solidarity trade union and the Catholic Church oppose the
parliamentary draft because it does not ban abortion and because it does
not state that "natural law" is higher than any man-made law. Solidarity
wants to submit an alternative draft constitution in a referendum, but
the leftist-dominated parliament is unlikely to accept that proposal.
The joint parliamentary session is expected to adopt a text by mid-
March. If approved by the president, the draft will be submitted to
voters in a national referendum. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLAND'S FOREIGN TRADE DEFICIT REACHES RECORD HIGH. According to
estimates by the Economy Ministry, the foreign trade deficit reached
$12.6 billion in 1996, almost double the figure for the previous year,
Rzeczpospolita reported on 25 February. Export revenues totaled $24.35
billion (6.3% increase over 1995) and import revenues $36.94 billion
(27.2%). Economy Ministry official Janusz Kaczurba said the shortfall
was caused mainly by the limited export capacity of the Polish economy
and the slowing down of global foreign trade. He added that the
improvement of the German economy (Germany is the biggest importer of
Polish goods) and the increase in foreign investment in Poland should
mean that the foreign trade deficit will be lower this year. Exports are
projected to grow by 15% and imports by 22%. -- Beata Pasek

CZECH PREMIER DISAGREES WITH PRESIDENT'S REMARKS. Vaclav Klaus on 24
February took issue with President Vaclav Havel's statement the previous
day that the West had missed its chance to expand NATO three or four
years ago when Russia was not opposed to such a step, CTK reported.
Havel criticized the West's conservatism and procrastination over the
issue. Klaus countered that expanding NATO requires time, adding that he
did not think "it could have been done faster." He also argued that
"only now is the time ripe," pointing out that Western politicians are
persuading one another that this is the right moment. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PREMIER ON DIRECT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. Vladimir Meciar,
speaking on Slovak Radio on 24 February, said that Slovak citizens could
elect not only the president but also the prime minister. He noted that
the premier is directly elected in some other countries, such as Israel.
Direct elections, he argues, would make the premier more independent.
Meciar's statements follow the recent conclusion of a petition drive
calling a referendum on whether the president should be elected
directly. The petition committee announced on 23 February that it had
collected the necessary 350,000 signatures. Meciar noted that it is
still not "legally clear whether the constitution can be changed through
a referendum." He added that he believed the referendum on Slovak
membership in NATO should not be held at the same time as that on direct
presidential elections. -- Jiri Pehe

HUNGARIAN FARMERS WANT TO CONTINUE PROTEST. Hungarian farmers are
continuing to protest changes in tax and social insurance legislation,
Hungarian media reported on 25 February. Farmers are blocking public
roads throughout the country for the second consecutive day.
Negotiations between farmers and government officials are due to begin
today. Gyula Kosa, one of the organizers of the protest, said farmers
will be willing to reach a compromise only with Finance Minister Peter
Medgyessy. Meanwhile, Premier Gyula Horn has said extremist parties are
trying to make political capital out of the farmers' demonstrations. The
far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party has announced a mass rally
outside the parliament building later this week, calling for the removal
of the governing coalition. -- Zsolt Mato

HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION HEAD SAYS HE RESIGNED ON OWN INITIATIVE. Sandor
Puskas, president of the supervisory board of the State Privatization
and Holding company (APV), has said he resigned on his own initiative,
Hungarian media reported on 25 February. Previously, it had been
reported that board members had asked Puskas to step down following
allegations that he was involved in a privatization scandal (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 24 February 1997). Puskas said he stepped down because of
disagreements with other board members over work methods. He added that
he had submitted his resignation in late January. -- Zsolt Mato

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN RULING PARTY ADMITS LINK TO PYRAMIDS. Blerim Celia, who heads
an interministerial committee, said on 24 February that the governing
Democratic Party (PD) received $50,000 from the now collapsed Gjallica
investment scheme. He did not say when the contribution was made, but he
added that Gjallica also spent $867,000 on last October's Miss World
pageant, AFP reported. The opposition and the British daily The
Independent have charged that there is a cozy relationship between the
PD, the pyramid schemes, and organized crime. The PD and the government
have denied the accusations. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry on 24
February repudiated charges that losses to citizens from collapsed
pyramids total $2 billion. -- Patrick Moore

ALBANIAN STUDENT PROTESTS TO EXPAND? Some 5,000 students rallied again
in Vlora on 24 February to demand the resignation of the government. A
group of 55 students are continuing their hunger strike, but doctors
have urged them to call it off because of their worsening health
condition. A female student was taken unconscious to a local hospital
the previous evening. Meanwhile, other citizens on 24 February joined in
the street demonstrations, which have been taking place regularly for
some three weeks. The police and the central authorities appear to have
given the town over to the protesters. And in Tirana and Gjirokaster,
students called for a boycott of classes, saying they might launch
hunger strikes of their own, international news agencies wrote. --
Patrick Moore

NEW BELGRADE CITY COUNCIL MAKES MEDIA APPOINTMENTS. The opposition
Zajedno city council in Belgrade has moved to put its own stamp on the
local broadcasting media, international media reported on 25 February. A
new director and a new editor-in-chief have been appointed to head the
influential Studio B. Both new appointees--Zoran Ostojic and Lila
Radonjic--are independent journalists who worked at the station before
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic came to power. Studio B was the
city's only independent television station until the authorities took it
over in February 1995. Meanwhile, new Serbian Information Minister
Radmila Milentijevic told a Washington press conference on 24 February
that Milosevic's regime is intent on making democratic reforms in the
broadcasting media, Reuters and Nasa Borba reported. -- Stan Markotich

EUROPEAN LEGISLATOR BLASTS "MEDIEVAL TORTURE" IN KOSOVO. Doris Pack, a
German member of the European Parliament, has seen the body of an ethnic
Albanian who died on 22 February in police custody, AFP reported on 25
February. She said: "It's unbelievable that at the end of this century
in Europe, we have medieval-style torture in Kosovo." The Serbian police
claimed Besnik Restelica committed suicide after confessing to terrorist
activities, Onasa reported (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 February 1997).
But the leading Kosovar Albanian political party, the Democratic League
of Kosovo, charged that he "died a violent death, arguably of torture at
the hands of Serb security." The statement added that he is the sixth
Albanian to die because of the police this year. -- Patrick Moore

IS MILOSEVIC LOOKING TO BOSNIA? The Serbian president met with Momcilo
Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the three-man Bosnian joint presidency,
Oslobodjenje reported on 25 February. It was Krajisnik's first trip to
Belgrade in five months. "Strengthening ties" between Serbia and the
Republika Srpska topped the agenda. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, the founding
meeting took place of the Council for Strategic Activities of the
Serbian Civic Council (SGV). The SGV represents anti-nationalist Serbs
who remained loyal to the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina throughout
the war and who are often called "the forgotten Serbs." The new body's
first task is to draft an amendment to the constitution of the otherwise
Croat-Muslim Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina giving the Serbs equal
legal status as a people. -- Patrick Moore

NATO REMOVES ROADBLOCKS, CONFISCATES WEAPONS FROM CROATS IN MOSTAR. NATO
troops have removed illegal roadblocks set up by local Croats in the
Herzegovinian city and have also confiscated some weapons, AFP reported
on 24 February. The operation followed two recent attacks against SFOR
troops (see OMRI Daily Digest, 21 and 24 February 1997). Also on 24
February, NATO issued a warning that its units in Mostar will not
hesitate to use weapons against those trying to attack the SFOR
contingent. Meanwhile, UN police have handed over a report on the
violent clashes that took place in Mostar earlier this month to the five
major international organizations supervising the implementation of the
Dayton peace accords. They did not, however, submit a copy to the
Bosnian authorities. The report is believed to recommend the prosecution
of those responsible for the violence, which left one dead and more than
30 wounded. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN SERB GAS DEBT TO RUSSIA TO BE PAID FROM INTERNATIONAL DONATIONS?
Top Bosnian Federation officials on 24 February agreed to propose to the
Council of Ministers that Bosnia's $12.3 million gas debt to Russia be
paid from international donations to the Bosnian Serb entity, the
Republika Srpska, which has accrued that debt, Onasa reported. They
stressed that the Sarajevo canton has paid its gas debt to Russia but
that the Serbs have not attended any meeting over the issue because they
want to negotiate with the Russians on their own. Russia, for its part,
cut gas supplies to Bosnia by 25 percent the same day, local and
international media reported. Meanwhile, Haris Silajdzic, Bosnia's
Muslim co-prime minister, complained that separate privatization laws in
the Muslim-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska may finally divide the
country, Reuters reported. Silajdzic said the Bosnian-Herzegovinian
state--not its two entities--should inherit the assets of Yugoslavia's
former republic and regulate privatization. -- Daria Sito Sucic

MACEDONIAN STUDENTS KEEP UP PROTEST AGAINST ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE
INSTRUCTION. Students in Skopje again took to the streets in a series of
protests that began last week. Students in Bitola and Tetovo, which has
a large ethnic Albanian population, joined in solidarity protests, AFP
wrote. Their goal is the abolition of a new law permitting Albanian-
language instruction at Skopje University's teachers' college and the
resignation of Minister of Education Sofija Todorova. The new law was
considered a compromise between the demands of the Albanians for
university-level instruction in their mother tongue, and the
constitutional provision that guarantees minority-language teaching only
in elementary and secondary schools. Ethnic Albanians make up at least
20% of the republic's population. -- Patrick Moore

PRISONERS' HUNGER STRIKE ENDS IN ROMANIA. Thousands of Romanian
prisoners have ended a six-day hunger strike, international media
reported on 24 February. The strike began last week in Bucharest in
protest at poor living conditions and harsh penal laws. It quickly
spread to almost half of the country's prisons. Judicial authorities
found most of the prisoners' demands justified and have promised to take
the necessary steps to rectify the situation. -- Zsolt Mato

ROMANIA'S EXILED KING PLEDGES TO RESPECT CONSTITUTION. King Mihai told
Romanians in a live Radio Bucharest broadcast on 24 February that he
will not raise at present "any constitutional or property issues." The
exiled monarch is due to start a six-day visit to Romania at the end of
this week. Mihai thanked President Emil Constantinescu, the government,
the parliament, and intellectuals for their help in recently restoring
his Romanian citizenship. His statements put an end to speculation by
former President Ion Iliescu and his leftist Party of Social Democracy
in Romania that Mihai wants back both his throne and his property in
Romania. -- Dan Ionescu

NEW COMMUNIST PARTY IN MOLDOVA. Hard-liners within the Communist Party
of the Republic of Moldova (CPRM) have decided to set up a new party
called the Communist Party of Moldova, Infotag reported on 24 February.
The split, which took place two days earlier, was described by CPRM
leader Vladimir Voronin as "natural." Voronin added that his party would
become stronger following the defection of "chameleons and renegades."
The CPRM's presidential candidate won some 10% of the vote in the
November 1996 elections. Some 60 delegates attended the constituent
conference of the new communist party. -- Dan Ionescu

DISUNITY AMONG BULGARIA'S UNITED DEMOCRATIC FORCES? The United
Democratic Forces (ODS), which forced the Socialists to give up power
following the recent street demonstrations, is now experiencing internal
tensions in the run-up to the 19 April parliamentary elections, the
Bulgarian press reported on 22 and 25 February. Discord has resulted
over how to draw up deputies' lists. The ODS's largest member, the Union
of Democratic Forces (SDS), insists on primary elections so that the
best candidates can be selected at the local level. But the People's
Union rejects this proposal, fearing that the SDS's candidates would win
against its own. By itself, the union currently has only a small chance
of crossing the 4% voter threshold for parliamentary representation. The
ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom--the third member of the
ODS--has so far not taken a stance over the issue. Its candidates are
almost certain to win in regions with a mixed population. -- Maria
Koinova

IMF MISSION ARRIVES IN SOFIA. An IMF mission arrived in Sofia on 24
January to discuss measures to halt Bulgaria's economic collapse,
Bulgarian media reported. Mission leader Anne McGuirk came from
Brussels, where a meeting of representatives of the IMF, the World Bank,
the EU, and the EBRD agreed to set up a consultative group to coordinate
international donor efforts but to disburse aid only after Bulgaria
reaches an agreement with the IMF. Greece appealed to EU foreign
ministers to assist Bulgaria, Albania, and Serbia by immediately
providing grain, food, and medicine. McGuirk expressed support for
measures taken to date by the interim government. She also noted the
IMF's willingness to negotiate with the cabinet but did not say whether
the IMF would sign an agreement with it. Meanwhile, the government has
raised the minimum wage to 17,600 leva ($8), raised pensions by 10,000
leva, and increased most social payments by 60%. -- Michael Wyzan

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

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