A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday. - Jonathan Swift
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 49, Part II, 11 March 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

RUMORS OF UKRAINIAN PREMIER'S REMOVAL. Rumors that Pavlo Lazarenko's
days are numbered have increased as he enters his eighth month in
office, Ukrainian Radio reported on 9 March. The rumors, which began as
soon as he assumed the premiership, stem more from his involvement with
various firms that have profited under his premiership than from
shortcomings in economic reform. Observers say President Leonid Kuchma's
postponement of his annual parliamentary address from 14 to 21 March is
intended to give him room to maneuver. Other signs that Kuchma is
distancing himself from the current government are the recent dismissals
of the finance and agricultural ministers and the president's decision
to ask former Donetsk Governor Volodymyr Shcherban, rather than
Lazarenko, to attend his meeting with Gazprom head Rem Vyakhirev.
Observers also point to Lazarenko's cutting short his vacation by two
weeks and his recent public statements stressing that he and Kuchma are
of one mind over policy. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz on 10
March spoke out in defense of Lazarenko, saying there are few changes
when premiers are replaced. -- Ustina Markus

RUSSIAN DELEGATION IN BELARUS. A Russian parliamentary delegation
arrived in Minsk on 10 March to take part in the third round of
interparliamentary talks on Russian-Belarusian integration, Russian
agencies reported. State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev and the rest of
the 55-strong delegation met with Seleznev's counterpart, Anatol
Malafeyev. Seleznev said he wanted closer bilateral relations not only
in words but in tangible deeds. The interparliamentary groups have to
elect a new chairman to replace the Belarusian speaker of the 1996
parliament, Syamyon Sharetsky, since he is not a member of the new
Belarusian legislature. So far, the only aspect of integration partly
implemented is the customs union. No progress has been made on unifying
the countries' transport and energy systems. -- Ustina Markus

MORE DEMONSTRATIONS IN MINSK. Despite the lack of progress toward
Russian-Belarusian integration, 5,000 people rallied in the Belarusian
capital to protest that goal, international agencies reported on 10
March. Their protest was timed to coincide with the arrival of the
Russian delegation. Authorities gave permission only to a token 40
people to picket on the square outside the parliament. Security forces
called on demonstrators to disband; when this did not happen, they
clashed with the protesters. An unspecified number of demonstrators were
arrested and beaten by the police. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN LITHUANIA. Ivan Antanovich told his
Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Saudargas, on 10 March that Belarus
will soon allocate funds for demarcating the countries' joint border. He
added that Minsk will also start negotiations on an agreement on the
readmission of illegal migrants and on joining the 1963 Vienna
Convention on civil responsibility in the event of a nuclear disaster,
Radio Lithuania reported. Lithuania submitted a draft readmission
agreement in the fall, but Belarus has yet to respond to it. The foreign
ministers, however, rejected Moscow's recent offer of tripartite talks
on readmission. Owing to Belarus's failure to sign the convention,
Sweden has not yet sent assistance to improve the safety of the nuclear
power plant at Ignalina. -- Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN LOCAL ELECTION UPDATE. Voter turnout in the 9 March local
elections was 56.8% (52.3% in cities and 60% in rural areas), BNS
reported the next day. The extreme left Social Democratic Party (SDP),
which is not represented in the Saeima, won 13 of the 15 seats on the
Daugavpils council. It was also the surprise winner in Riga, chalking up
11 of the 60 seats. A total of 17 parties won seats to the Riga council,
and it is likely that rightist parties will have the senior posts. In
Liepaja, the rightist Liepaja's United Election List won nine of the 15
seats, while the SDP was able to secure only 2. Victorious Ventspils
Mayor Aivars Lembergs will retain the post he has held since 1988. --
Saulius Girnius

NEW CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF IN POLAND. President Aleksander Kwasniewski
on 10 March recalled Gen. Tadeusz Wilecki as chief of General Staff.
Wilecki was nominated to that post in August 1992 by Kwasniewski's
predecessor, Lech Walesa. He is replaced by Gen. Henryk Szarecki, who
was commander in chief of the Silesian Military District from 1987 to
1989 and since then has been deputy chief of General Staff. Szarecki has
recently worked in the presidential State Security Bureau (BBN). Wilecki
was believed to be opposed to civilian control over the army and knew,
at least during Walesa's term as president, how to take advantage of
political configurations. The opposition claimed that Kwasniewski's
decision was taken under the influence of the co-ruling Democratic Left
Alliance. Kwasniewski, however, said the decision to recall Wilecki was
his personal one and that he had consulted only with Defense Minister
Stanislaw Dobrzanski. -- Jakub Karpinski

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN CZECH REPUBLIC. Emil Constantinescu, after meeting
with Czech President Vaclav Havel in Prague on 10 March, said Romania is
fully prepared to join NATO in the first wave. Havel assured
Constantinescu that the Czech Republic supports Romanian efforts to
become a NATO member. Constantinescu also met with Prime Minister Vaclav
Klaus, who later praised the Romanian government's decision to
immediately launch radical economic reforms. Klaus said that political
determination and strength were needed to implement such reforms, adding
that the Romanian president displays such determination. Constantinescu
and parliamentary speaker Milos Zeman told journalists after their talks
that the Czech Republic and Romania support each other's membership in
Euro-Atlantic organizations. Constantinescu visited RFE/RL headquarters
in Prague today. -- Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK ACTORS, OPPOSITION DEPUTIES OCCUPY CULTURE MINISTRY. Some 100
striking theater employees and 20 opposition deputies on 10 March held a
sit-in at the Culture Ministry, vowing not to leave until they were
received by Culture Minister Ivan Hudec, Slovak media reported. The
actors' strike began on 28 February to protest government interference
in theaters' affairs. About two-thirds of Slovakia's theaters are
currently involved. Hudec left the building, refusing to sign an
agreement with the demonstrators, who, he said, "were always opposed to
Slovak independence." The police eventually succeeded in removing the
protesters, although they reportedly had to use force against them. The
protesters later returned to the ministry and spent the night there.
They left the ministry this morning to present their demands to the
government, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAKIA NEXT IN LINE FOR OECD MEMBERSHIP. Donald Johnston, secretary-
general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development,
said on 10 March that Slovakia should be the next OECD member, Reuters
reported. Although there are several other applicants, "there are no
other imminent members except for Slovakia," Johnston said during a
visit to Helsinki. He added that the examination process for Slovak
membership is "quite far advanced." The Czech Republic, Hungary, and
Poland have already joined the organization. OECD Legal Department head
Christian Shricke said there are still problems that need to be
addressed in Slovakia. "We encouraged authorities to proceed
expeditiously with the privatization of remaining state-owned assets in
particular in the financial sectors," Shricke said. Slovak Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar's statement in late January that bank
privatization is a condition for OECD membership sparked controversy.
The opposition and the Association of Workers, the junior coalition
party, support a bill that would delay the privatization of Slovakia's
four largest financial institutions until 2003. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES THE "OILGATE" REPORT. Legislators on 10
March began debating the final report of the parliamentary commission
investigating the "Oilgate" affair, Hungarian media reported. The report
gives the findings of a 16-month investigation into alleged conflict of
interests arising from deals linked to Russia's repayment of its debt to
Hungary in 1994-95. It states that Imre Dunai, then state secretary and
later minister of industry and trade, should be held responsible for
offering contracts to the Moscow-based Hungarian Finance and Trade
company, headed by Andras Dunai, who is his son. The commission also
found that links between Socialist politicians and various business
interest groups were "inordinately" close. After the "oilgate" scandal
erupted in December 1995, deputies gave priority to the passage of a
conflict of interests bill. There were heated debates in the parliament,
but the bill was eventually passed and signed into law by President
Arpad Goncz last week. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN SITUATION REMAINS TENSE. Rebels in parts of southern Albania
are continuing to demand the resignation of President Sali Berisha as a
precondition for calling a halt to the fighting. Greek TV on 10 and 11
March reported that since Berisha offered to form a government of
reconciliation and to make other concessions, including an extension of
the general amnesty, several more towns in southern Albania have fallen
to the rebels. Berat, Kelcyra, Kucova, Permeti, Polican, and Skrapar are
now in rebel hands, while some unconfirmed reports say fighting has
broken out in Lushnja and Gramsh. But rebel leaders controlling the port
of Vlore have reportedly accepted Berisha's concessions, following what
may have been mediation and encouragement from Rome. Meanwhile, Berisha
continues to meet with opposition leaders in an effort to find a
candidate for the premiership acceptable to all parties. -- Stan
Markotich

INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR BERISHA. Meanwhile, Danish Foreign Minister
Niels Helveg Petersen, who is currently head of the OSCE, said the
president's concessions are "a resolute and positive response," AFP
reported on 11 March. He urged rebel fighters to turn in their weapons
immediately. U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns commented,
"We join our European partners in welcoming the agreement between
President Berisha and the opposition in Albania." Inside the country,
one unidentified official of the Socialist Party predicted that the
danger of civil war has passed. He said the rebels are tiring and are
now "waiting to see the make-up of the new government," AFP reported. --
Stan Markotich

MACEDONIA ASKS UN NOT TO WITHDRAW TROOPS. Pointing to the dangers posed
by the ongoing turmoil in Albania, the Macedonian government on 10 March
asked UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to stop withdrawing UN soldiers
from the country's border with Albania, Nova Makedonija reported. The
first of three UN observer posts on that frontier was closed on 3 March
as part of the reduction of soldiers in Macedonia from 1,050 to 750 (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 5 March 1997). Meanwhile, Sonja Nikolovska--owner of
Bitola-based TAT, Macedonia's largest savings house--was arrested on 7
March and charged with forging documents, tax evasion, and abuse of
office. Last week, the national bank suspended the operations of TAT,
which had DM 104 million in deposits--some DM 40 million of which has
disappeared--and at least 23,000 clients. -- Michael Wyzan

TRIAL OPENS ON WAR CRIMES AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS. The UN Criminal
Tribunal for former Yugoslavia on 10 March began its first case
involving alleged offenses against Serbs during the Bosnia war, AFP
reported. Three Muslims and one Croat were charged with murdering and
torturing Serb prisoners at the Celebici camp near Konjic, southern
Bosnia, between May and December 1992. Zejnil Delalic, Hazim Delic, and
Zdravko Mucic, who were supervising camp guards and others in a position
to ill-treat detainees in Celebici, did nothing to stop the atrocities.
The fourth man, Esad Landzo, has been charged with carrying out five
murders and with torturing a number of prisoners. In other news,
tribunal spokesman Christian Chartier said the verdict on Bosnian Serb
Dusan Tadic, the first suspect tried for war crimes in former
Yugoslavia, will be delivered the last week of April. -- Daria Sito
Sucic

NEW MEDIA LEGISLATION IN SERBIA? Information Minister Radmila
Milentijevic has proposed new legislation regulating media, Vecernje
novosti reported on 11 March. Under the new bill, no more than 20% of
all dailies could be privately owned and private television and radio
stations would be allowed to broadcast only to 25% of the population.
State-run television and radio, which remain firmly in the grip of
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, will continue to broadcast to the
entire population. Milentijevic defended her legislative proposal,
saying it meets "European standards." -- Stan Markotich

CROATIA WANTS TO RESUME ARMS SALE TO KUWAIT. Croatian Prime Minister
Zlatko Matesa was in Kuwait last weekend where he began talks on
resuming sales of Croatian-made military hardware to Kuwait, Hina
reported on 9 March. Defense Minister Assistant Vladimir Zagorec said
Kuwait was interested in resuming cooperation in tank and ship
construction. Croatia exported arms to Kuwait when it was part of former
Yugoslavia. As such, it also inherited a $200 million debt to Kuwait.
Matesa proposed that Croatian debts to Kuwait be transformed into
Kuwaiti investment in Croatian economy, in line with an agreement with
the Paris Club. Croatia and Kuwait on 8 March signed an agreement on
boosting and protecting foreign investment. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ROMANIAN PREMIER ON RELATIONS WITH HUNGARY. Victor Ciorbea, on the eve
of his visit to Hungary, said he expects legislation on local
administration and education to be amended soon to meet Hungarian ethnic
demands, Radio Bucharest reported on 10 March. Ciorbea said the local
administration law should provide for bilingual signs and the education
law should lift "restrictions" on instruction in national minority
languages. Ciorbea also said that Gyorgy Tokay, a member of the
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) and the head of the
department for national minorities within the premier's office, will be
among the visiting Romanian delegation. He added that the UDMR's
participation in the government coalition is "necessary and useful" and
"contributes to internal stability." -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN BISHOP ADMITS COOPERATION WITH SECURITATE. Orthodox Bishop of
Banat Nicolae Corneanu, in an interview with the daily Romania libera on
10 March, admitted he cooperated with Nicolae Ceausescu's secret police,
international media reported. He said that, under pressure from the
Securitate, he signed an order in 1981 excommunicating five dissident
priests, Since the fall of communism, Corneanu has been considered one
of the more courageous bishops. He often adopted positions that opposed
Ion Iliescu's regime, including favoring extending an invitation to
former King Mihai to visit Timisoara. -- Michael Shafir

TIRASPOL SUSPENDS COLLABORATION WITH OSCE MISSION. The Tiraspol
authorities have suspended collaboration with the OSCE permanent mission
in the separatist Transdniester region, Infotag reported on 10 March.
Valerii Litkai, who is "foreign minister" in the region, told the agency
that the decision follows a report by Donald Johnston, head of the
mission, submitted to the OSCE council in Vienna in February. He said
that, in the wake of the report, the mission's activities in the
Transdniester has become "inexpedient." Earlier this month, the
breakaway region's delegation to the Joint Control Commission refused to
participate in a commission meeting to protest criticisms made by
Johnston in his report (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 March 1997). -- Michael
Shafir

INFLATION IN BULGARIA CONTINUES TO SKYROCKET. The consumer-price index
rose in February by 242.7%, Bulgarian newspapers reported on 11 March.
Inflation for the first two months of 1997 amounts to almost 393%,
compared with 311% for 1996 as a whole. Prices of imports are
decreasing, as the lev continues to strengthen (the exchange rate today
is 1646 lev to $1). The IMF is projecting 1,150% inflation and an
average exchange rate of 2,000 lev to $1 for 1997, Duma reported. The
fund insists that the budget deficit should not exceed 2% of GDP, while
the government argues for 5-6%. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister
Aleksandar Bozhkov said on 10 March that Bulgaria will not agree to
granting Russia a concession to build a gas pipeline through Bulgaria,
RFE/RL reported. The government argues that the previous government's
decision to grant such a concession was made in haste. -- Michael Wyzan

SEPARATE ELECTORAL LISTS FOR BULGARIAN PARTIES. Ahmed Dogan, leader of
the predominantly ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS),
and Ivan Kostov, head of the Union of Democratic Forces (SDS), agreed on
10 March to have separate electoral lists in the April general
elections, Trud reported on 11 March. The SDS and the People's Union,
the other major anti-communist grouping, agreed last week on a common
list (see OMRI Daily Digest, 6 March 1997). Dogan argues that it would
be better if the SDS did not have an absolute majority in the next
parliament, lest it become intoxicated with its success and suffer the
same fate as the Socialists, who ruled until February. Meanwhile, a
Gallup poll conducted earlier this month revealed that 81% of
respondents had confidence in President Petar Stoyanov, while 68% backed
Premier Stefan Sofiyanski. -- Michael Wyzan

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Jan Cleave

*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!

What's in Store for the magazine Transition

We've learned much in the last two years about what sort of magazine
Transition can be and what role it should play in Central and Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet Union. Of greatest help in this process has
been the advice of readers. Among some of the desired changes are for
Transition to offer even more articles by writers in the region - lively
opinion pieces as well as fact-filled analysis and expanded departments.

Accordingly, Transition will be substantially restructured and
relaunched as a monthly with the issue dated June 1997. The last
biweekly issue will be 6 April, followed by a brief hiatus. All existing
subscriptions will be honored and extended according to the new monthly
frequency, which is priced at $65 for 12 issues. As before, we offer a
substantial discount for readers in and of the countries we cover (apply
to the contacts listed below for more information).

For more information, contact the OMRI Marketing Department at tel.
(420-2) 6114 2114, fax (420-2) 6114 3181; email: transition-DD@omri.cz

*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!*^!

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