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OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 52, Part II, 14 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


EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

NORTH ATLANTIC ASSEMBLY TO SUSPEND TIES WITH
BELARUS. The North Atlantic Assembly (NAA), the
interparliamentary organization of NATO members, has
said it is freezing all ties with Belarus, RFE/RL reported on
13 March. NAA President and U.S. Senator Bill Roth said
the freeze will last until a formal decision is made on
Belarus's NAA membership status in April. Belarus is an
associate member of the NAA. He said the decision was
taken because President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's policies
have undermined the rule of law and the democratic
legitimacy of the country's legislature. * Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ARRESTED.
Belarusian police raided the headquarters of the Belarusian
Popular Front on 13 March, AFP and Reuters reported on
13 March. They arrested BFP deputy chairman Yuryi
Khadyka, who was imprisoned last spring for his role in
organizing demonstrations against President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka's policies. He was released after staging a
hunger strike that lasted almost three weeks. The BPF
organized an unsanctioned demonstration against Russian-
Belarusian integration on 10 March, when a Russian
delegation arrived in Minsk for further talks on integration.
* Ustina Markus

CHORNOBYL CUTS POWER OUTPUT BY HALF. The
Chornobyl nuclear power station has halved its power
output owing to fuel shortages, Reuters reported on 13
March. Only one of the power station's four reactors is in
use, and station spokesman Valerii Idelson said that one
may have to be shut down in a month if there are no
additional fuel supplies. The Chornobyl plant owes $3.5
million for fuel deliveries from Russia but has no money to
pay off the debt or buy new fuel. Consumers owe the station
over 2 billion hryvnyas ($110 million) for electricity. Idelson
said the situation could affect the plant's safety since power
was needed to maintain and warm the reactor that
continues to operate as well as the No. 1 reactor, which has
not been fully decommissioned. Russia has supplied Ukraine
with nuclear fuel as compensation for valuable materials in
the nuclear warheads transferred from Ukraine to Russia.
The final compensatory fuel delivery will be made this year,
after which Ukraine will have to pay for the fuel. Ukraine's
five nuclear power stations supply the country with as
much as 45% of its electricity. During this winter, Kyiv has
depended on half its electrical supplies from Chornobyl.
* Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN PREMIER THREATENS GOVERNMENT
ORGANIZATIONS. Pavlo Lazarenko told the cabinet on 13
March that the state will stop financing any governing
organizations that have failed to pay employees' wages or
deliver food supplies, medicines, or community services to
workers, Ukrainian Radio reported. Lazarenko said he took
that decision because so many government organizations
have not abided by President Leonid Kuchma's decree
ordering all government organizations to reduce their staffs
by at least a quarter and submit a new budget based on
those reductions by 10 March. At the same cabinet session,
the January-February performance of the oil and chemical
industry as well as the food, forestry, and coal industries
was criticized. Crimea and Chernihiv were singled out as the
least productive oblasts, with overall output falling by more
than 30%. * Ustina Markus

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT STRIPS DEPUTIES OF POWER.
The Crimean Presidium, meeting in a closed session on 12
March, stripped seven deputies belonging to an "Anti-
criminal coalition" of their powers, UNIAN reported on 12
March. The seven included former Crimean parliamentary
speaker Serhii Tsekov. The decision will go into effect if 49 of
Crimea's 96 deputies sign the resolution. The following day,
Ukrainian Radio reported the Presidium has decided not to
pay deputies who do not have valid reasons for not
attending parliamentary sessions and to use those funds to
pay wage arrears to teachers. * Ustina Markus

PARTY POPULARITY RATINGS IN ESTONIA. The Estonian
Country People's Party was the most popular party in
Estonia in February, BNS reported on 13 March. An
opinion survey by Saar Poll showed the party receiving 16%
support among the 1,001 respondents. It was followed by
the Reform Party with 13% and the Moderates with 12%.
The Center Party garnered 11% support, the Pensioners'
and Families' League 6%, and the Coalition Party and Pro
Patria Union 5% each. In a December poll, the Reform Party
placed first with 15% support, ahead of the Country
People's Party with 14%. * Jiri Pehe

LATVIA, LITHUANIA DISCUSS SEA BORDER. Latvia and
Lithuania will try to avoid linking the issue of their common
sea border to economic questions, Latvian chief negotiator
Maris Riekstins told BNS on 13 March. The Latvian and
Lithuanian delegations negotiating the sea border met
yesterday. They agreed that excluding economic interests
from the border talks would improve the chances of
reaching an agreement. The next meeting is scheduled for
mid-April. * Jiri Pehe

GDANSK SHIPYARD PROTEST CONTINUES. Gdansk
shipyard workers continued to demonstrate in the port city
on 13 and 14 March to protest the shipyard's closure,
Polish media report. Some 3,000 employees at the shipyard
are slated to lose their jobs. The protesters shouted anti-
communists slogans and again blocked the most important
road junction in downtown Gdansk. They also burned tires,
engulfing the city center in black smoke. On 13 March, the
protesters blocked railroad tracks and brought 30 trains to
a halt, Rzeczpospolita reported. Solidarity plans to seek
public funds in a bid to save the shipyard. * Jakub Karpinski

CZECHS SUPPORT LATVIA'S MEMBERSHIP IN NATO.
Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec said after his meeting
with his Latvian counterpart, Vladis Birkavs, in Prague on
13 March that NATO must remain open for all applicants
even after its Madrid summit in July. At that meeting,
NATO is to invite a first wave of new members to join the
alliance. The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovenia
are considered to have the best chances of being asked to
join first. A total of 12 Central and East European states
have said they want to become NATO members. * Jiri Pehe

CZECH REPUBLIC TO USE NORWAY AS GAS SUPPLIER?
The Czech government on 13 March asked Trade and
Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy to "continue intensive
final talks" with Norway's GSU company on supplying gas
to the Czech Republic, Hospodarske Noviny reported. The
GSU is an umbrella company composed of the Statoil,
Norsk Hydro, and Saga concerns. The government has
considered offers made by other gas suppliers, but it
appears to be leaning toward GSU. Dlouhy told journalists
that his talks with GSU representatives should lead to a
final decision soon. The government wants to diversify gas
supplies in order to break its almost total dependency on
Russian gas and Gazprom's monopoly on supplying gas to
the Czech Republic. According to Dlouhy, the Czech Republic
should start receiving "non-Russian gas" sometime this
year. * Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK PRESIDENT CALLS TWO REFERENDUMS. Michal
Kovac on 13 March said nationwide referendums on
whether the president should be elected directly and on
Slovakia's NATO membership will be held simultaneously on
May 23 and 24, Slovak media reported. "I will launch a
personal campaign before the two referendums and will
advocate a 'yes' vote to both," Kovac said after announcing
the plebiscite. The referendum on direct presidential
elections is a direct challenge to Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar, whose ruling three-party coalition defeated an
opposition attempt in the parliament to change the
constitution in favor of such elections. The opposition then
collected the 350,000 signatures needed for a referendum to
be held on the issue. * Jiri Pehe

SLOVAK STUDENTS SUPPORT ACTORS' PROTESTS.
Several thousand students marched through the center of
Bratislava on 13 March in support of actors protesting
against Culture Minister Ivan Hudec's policies, international
media reported. Four Bratislava university colleges have
announced a strike alert to support the actors. Their
actions are in response to a brutal police raid earlier this
week at the Culture Ministry, when police attacked
protesting actors and opposition lawmakers. The actors
went on strike in protest against Hudec on 28 February.
* Jiri Pehe

CIORBEA URGES HUNGARIANS TO INVEST IN ROMANIA.
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea, on the last day of
his visit to Hungary, urged Hungarians to help pull his
country out of its economic crisis by investing there,
Hungarian media reported on 14 March. Addressing some
100 Hungarian businessmen, he commented that, "We will
not be able to overcome the economic crisis without foreign
investment." He said he saw a big role for Hungarian
business in Romania, assuring potential investors that new
economic laws will provide firm ground for foreign capital in
Romania. Ciorbea also pledged to allow foreigners to own
land in Romania, to help develop the capital market, and to
consolidate the stock exchange. The previous day, Hungary
and Romania signed agreements strengthening ties in the
economic, transport and foreign policy fields. * Zsofia
Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIA PLUNGES INTO CHAOS... Public order has now
broken down in many cities and towns across the country,
international media reported. Police and military personnel
in several municipalities have abandoned their posts. In
Tirana alone, an estimated 70 people were injured and 9
killed on 13 March. According to eyewitness accounts,
gunshots could be heard in the capital during the night of
13-14 March. Tanks were sent to the city center, but it
remains unclear who issued the order. Tirana's prisons
have emptied, and among those to be released are Socialist
leader Fatos Nano and former communist President Ramiz
Alia. Mob violence and chaos are evident in most major
cities, including the northern town of Shkodra, where mobs
went on a rampage and set ablaze to public buildings. * Stan
Markotich

...AS MANY SEEK SAFETY ABROAD. Italian air naval forces
have evacuated some 700 foreign nationals since yesterday,
AFP reports. The British Foreign Office reports that another
131 foreign nationals have left from the port of Durres.
CNN reported earlier today that the children of President
Sali Berisha have left for Italy. And according to AFP,
former Defense Minister Safet Zhulali, who was replaced
only two days ago, has arrived safely in that country with
his family. Berisha has called for help from abroad to deal
with the crisis. * Stan Markotich

BELGRADE ISSUES STATEMENT ON ALBANIAN CRISIS.
The government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in its
first statement on the crisis in Albania, has called for a
"peaceful" resolution, Reuters reported on 13 March.
Belgrade said it is concerned about the "deep
destabilisation...[which has] implications for the stability of
the region." Reuters suggests that the statement was likely
prompted by an incident along the Macedonian border with
Albania demonstrating that the violence risks spreading to
predominantly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo. On 13 March,
Macedonian border guards exchanged fire with Albanian
police, Macedonian Radio reported. * Stan Markotich

U.S. MILITARY URGE EUROPEANS TO LEAD BOSNIA
FOLLOW-ON FORCE. At U.S.-French talks in Washington
on 13 March, senior U.S. military officials urged Europeans
to take over peace-keeping duties in Bosnia-Herzegovina
when U.S. troops leave, AFP reported. Robert Grant of U.S.-
Crest, a Washington think-tank, said the French
representatives insisted that the U.S. keep its SFOR ground
troop force in Bosnia together with its European allies. In
other news, High Representative for Bosnia Carl Bildt has
called on the Council of Ministers to adopt a package of
economic laws to allow the delayed international donor
conference to take place. On 13 March, the council reached
agreement on several foreign trade laws but failed to adopt
other legislation. Haris Silajdzic, one of the council's two co-
chairmen, said the High Representative's Office should also
be blamed for the conference's delay. "Bildt's office failed to
respond on privatization, restitution, and ownership draft
laws submitted by the council," Oslobodjenje on 14 March
quoted Silajdzic as saying. * Daria Sito Sucic

IMF GRANTS CROATIA $486 MILLION CREDIT. The
International Monetary Fund on 13 March announced it
has granted Croatia a three-year credit line worth $486
million to support economic reform, AFP reported. The fund
noted that Croatia began implementing an economic
stabilization campaign in 1993, despite regional military
conflict, and that it has managed to restore fiscal control
and reduce inflation from more than 1,000% to industrial
country levels. Meanwhile, Gen Jacques Klein, UN
transitional administrator for Croatia's Serb-held region of
eastern Slavonia, called for increased financial support from
the international community to ensure stability in the
region. In other news, Vittorio Ghidi, outgoing chief of the
EU Humanitarian Office in Zagreb, said the EU will continue
to provide humanitarian aid to Croatia in the form of bank
loans or through the PHARE program, Hina reported on 13
March. * Daria Sito Sucic

MACEDONIAN PREMIER GIVES MAJOR SPEECH ON
ETHNIC ISSUES. Branko Crvenkovski delivered a speech on
inter-ethnic relations to a special session of parliament on
13 March, Nova Makedonija reported. He noted that
Macedonia finds itself in an "extraordinarily difficult
situation" on the political, economic, social, and even
security fronts. He added that many problems result from
poorly-functioning institutions. He said the government's
inter-ethnic policies and the current constitution are based
on "political coexistence, mutual tolerance and respect, the
overcoming of problems through the institutions of the
system, and adaptation and drafting of our laws and
procedures on the basis of European norms." He scolded the
opposition for failing to respect those achievements and
defended the law on the Pedagogical Faculty at Skopje
University allowing instruction there in Albanian. The
legislation has sparked student protests. * Michael Wyzan

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER ON FUTURE OF
BABES-BOLYAI UNIVERSITY. President Emil
Constantinescu and Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea made
separate statements on 13 March clarifying that the Cluj
Babes-Bolyai University will remain unified. It will, however,
be divided into two autonomous sections-one teaching in
Romanian, the other in Hungarian. Radio Bucharest carried
a press release in which Constantinescu said the Magyar
community's demands to have institutes of higher
education teaching in its language was "legitimate" and in
line with "European norms." Premier Ciorbea, in an
interview on national television, said both the Hungarian
Democratic Federation of Romania and Hungary's ruling
coalition and opposition were agreed to the continued
existence of a unified university divided into two sections.
Ciorbea discussed the issue with Hungarian officials during
his trip to Budapest earlier this week. * Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN EXTREME NATIONALIST STRIPPED OF
IMMUNITY. The Romanian Senate on 13 March stripped
Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extreme nationalist
Greater Romanian Party (PRM), of his parliamentary
immunity, RFE/RL and local media reported on 13-14
March. The move, however, may contravene the house
regulations, since the ruling coalition, which voted in favor,
was short of the required two-thirds majority. National
Peasant Party-Christian Democratic representative Nistor
Badiceanu proposed an amendment saying the previous
legislature's decision to lift Tudor's immunity was still valid,
and Senate chairman Petre Roman decided that the vote on
the amendment would be decided by a simple majority.
Deputies from the PRM, the Party of Social Democracy in
Romania (which initiated the removal of Tudor's immunity
last year but now opposes it) and the Party of Romanian
National Unity walked out in protest. In their absence, the
amendment was carried by a vote of 74 to three. Tudor has
said that he will appeal to the Constitutional Court.
* Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR
LIBEL. A court in the town of Buzau has found three
Romanian journalists guilty of libel against a former local
prosecutor and sentenced them to one year in prison,
RFE/RL reported on 13 March. The three journalists work
for the local paper Opinia. Libel charges were brought
against them after they published an article claiming that
the former prosecutor's mother had rented her house to an
illegal pyramid scheme. The journalists are free pending an
appeal, which they must file by 21 March. * Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL INVESTIGATES
SOCIALIST AGRICULTURE MINISTER. Ivan Tatarchev on
13 March launched an investigation into whether Vasil
Chichibaba, the first agriculture minister under former
Socialist Premier Zhan Videnov, and three of his deputies
were criminally negligent in allowing large-scale exports,
Pari reported. They are suspected of negligence in
forecasting the 1995 wheat balance, which led to excessive
wheat exports that year as well as a shortage of bread grain
in both 1995 and 1996. The damage to the economy caused
by having to import grain after large-scale exports totaled
6.5 billion leva ($97 million). If convicted, Chichibaba and
the three deputies face up to 10 years' imprisonment.
Meanwhile, the government has approved a program to
expedite Bulgaria's integration into NATO, including the
speedier adoption of NATO military standards and a public
education campaign about the alliance, Western agencies
reported on 13 March. * 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
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biweekly issue will be 6 April, followed by a brief hiatus. All existing
subscriptions will be honored and extended according to the new monthly
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to the contacts listed below for more information).

For engaged intellectuals, policymakers, journalists, and scholars from
the region, the new Transition will provide a rare forum for the
exchange of ideas and criticism on political, economic, and cultural
issues and events. Transition will also offer readers from abroad a
window on the experiences of countries moving away from a single
ideology. We are certain that the magazine's new format and orientation
will make it even more useful for your work, as well as contributing
more to your understanding.

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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