The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
OMRI DAILY DIGEST

No. 54, Part II, 18 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

**See below for information on upcoming changes to Transition.
*********************************************************************

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

KUCHMA SAYS RUSSIA PUSHING UKRAINE INTO NATO. In an interview on the
Ukrainian TV talk show Pislyamova, President Leonid Kuchma said Russia's
aggressive policy toward Ukraine was pushing Kyiv into seeking NATO
membership, NTV and AFP reported on 17 March. Kuchma said the alliance
could be salvation for Ukraine from Moscow if Russia continues to pursue
its current policies. However, he said Ukraine's current neutral status
is in the interest of everyone, including NATO, Russia, Europe, and the
CIS. Kuchma also said Ukraine could not exist within the CIS system, as
it had its own individual characteristics and its own destiny. -- Ustina
Markus

CRIMEAN DEPUTIES LAUNCH HUNGER STRIKE. At least three of the seven
Crimean deputies who were stripped of their legislative powers by the
Crimean cabinet launched a hunger strike in the Simferopol parliament on
17 March, ITAR-TASS and ORT reported the following day. One of the
hunger strikers, deputy Volodymyr Klychnikov, said the fasting deputies
wanted the cabinet and parliament to resign. The seven deputies were
stripped of their powers by a decision of the presidium on 13 March
because of their "anti-constitutional, destructive, and hooliganistic
activities during parliamentary sessions." The emasculated deputies
publicized their hunger strike as a move in opposition to the unlawful
rule in Crimea. -- Ustina Markus

SOROS REGIONAL DIRECTOR BARRED FROM BELARUS. Belarusian border guards
refused to allow Peter Byrne, director of the Soros Foundation in
Belarus, to re-enter the country, Belarusian television and
international agencies reported on 16 March. Byrne had been in Budapest
for a meeting of Soros executive directors. When he flew back to Minsk,
where he is a resident, the border guards accused him of interfering in
Belarus's domestic affairs by participating in anti-Lukashenka
demonstrations. The Soros Foundation has invested $13 million in
Belarus, with much of the money spent on education, ecological and
medical programs, and support for independent media. The U.S. embassy in
Belarus lodged an official protest, but U.S. officials were barred from
meeting with Byrne and he was deported to Germany. Embassy spokesman
Alexei Solomakha said he believed Belarusian authorities violated
international norms by deporting Byrne and not informing the embassy.
The Soros Foundation had been under pressure from the country's
authorities for some time because of its activities. -- Ustina Markus

PRO-INTEGRATIONISTS MEET IN MINSK. The Congress of USSR Peoples--a
gathering of major proponents of re-integrating the former Soviet Union-
-was held in Minsk on 16 March, Belarusian television reported.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka addressed the meeting,
lamenting the demise of the USSR, warning against NATO expansion,
accusing the West of double standards, and urging integration among CIS
states. Russian participants included Communist Party leader Gennadii
Zyuganov and leader of the Working Russia movement Viktor Anpilov. Both
blasted the West. Anpilov called for a ban on NATO and demanded that the
U.S. get out of Europe. Zyuganov accused the West of setting up
obstacles to CIS integration. The Belarusian Communist Party, which had
opposed Lukashenka's November 1996 constitutional referendum, was banned
from participating in the congress. One Communist deputy was forcibly
ejected from the meeting. -- Ustina Markus

BALTIC LEADERS ON POSSIBLE RUSSIA-NATO DEAL. Latvian President Guntis
Ulmanis called for greater publicity of the talks between the United
States and Russia on NATO expansion, BNS reported on 17 March. Ulmanis
said Latvia can not rule out the possibility that a compromise between
the alliance and Russia could be formed at the expense of the Baltics.
Meanwhile, Toomas Hendrik Ilves said the fear that U.S. President Bill
Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin would strike a secret deal
in Helsinki that would threaten the Baltic states is groundless. "I
regard it as a paranoid attitude. It is not part of U.S. political
practice," Ilves said. The topic of a secret deal might be intriguing
from a journalistic point of view, he added, but cannot be based on
truth. -- Jiri Pehe

LITHUANIAN PREMIER REJECTS ALLEGED UNDERWORLD TIES. Gediminas Vagnorius
on 17 March described media reports alleging that Vladas Laurinavicius,
a millionaire of dubious reputation, financed the co-ruling Homeland
Union as "irresponsible political fabrications," BNS reported. In an
official press release, Vagnorius argued that his party and its
leadership "were not and will never be under the influence of any
individuals." According to Vagnorius, the party has not defended and
will not defend its officials if they become involved in corruption or
have links to the criminal world. Several articles have appeared in the
Lithuanian press over the past few days alleging ties between the ruling
coalition and Laurinavicius. -- Jiri Pehe

POLISH FISHING BOAT STILL DETAINED IN RUSSIA. The Polish fishing boat
Aquarius, impounded by inspectors from the Russian Environmental
Protection Ministry while fishing in the Sea of Okhotsk on 26 February
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 March 1997), docked at the port in
Petropavlovsk on Kamchatka on 17 March. The crew was not given
permission to leave the vessel, but Polish consul Stanislaw Lukasik was
allowed to board the ship and talk to the crew. The Russian inspectors
argue that the Aquarius lacked proper written permission to fish in the
area and is sending the case to the local court. The Poles contend they
had permission and that the official papers merely arrived with delay.
Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati said Moscow broke the relevant
agreements with Poland and its behavior has been out of line with what
is expected between friendly countries. -- Jakub Karpinski

PROTESTS AGAINST CLOSURE OF GDANSK SHIPYARD CONTINUE. Polish shipyard
workers in Gdansk protested for the fourth day against the shipyard's
closure. They yelled "thieves, thieves" and flung coins at Bank Gdanski
and Pekao bank, which have refused credit to the failing shipyard. The
workers also returned to last week's tactic of blocking the city's most
vital crossroads with burning tires. Pope John Paul II made a statement
on 16 March supporting the shipyard work"vrs, saying "I want to tell you
that, just as I was with you in heart and prayer when you fought for
freedom, so I am now with you and your families in this struggle for
survival." Meanwhile, a nationwide protest for higher pay by customs
employees caused chaos and congestion along Poland's borders. The
customs officers subject travelers, documents, and goods to extremely
slow and meticulous scrutiny. They want bonuses amounting to 100% of
their basic pay to be paid from the state budget. -- Jakub Karpinski

CZECHS CRITICAL OF RUSSIAN ENVOY'S REMARKS. The Czech government views
Russian Ambassador Nikolai Ryabov's suggestion that bilateral trade
accords might be canceled if Prague gains NATO membership as "absolutely
unacceptable," Czech Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec told CTK on 17
March. Ryabov told Russia's NTV on 16 March that the Czech Republic's
entry into NATO could make Moscow reconsider economic deals with Prague.
Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said he expected the Russian
government to renounce Ryabov's statements as not reflecting Moscow's
official policy. "We were shocked by the Russian ambassador's remarks,"
Klaus said in Budapest, where he is on an official visit. On 17 March,
Ryabov told ITAR-TASS he "regrets" that his words "have been
misinterpreted" in Prague. "Russia is by no means trying to link NATO's
expansion to the east with the development of cooperation, as it is
currently being presented by the Czech side," Ryabov said. -- Jiri Pehe

STUDENTS DEMONSTRATE OUTSIDE SLOVAK CULTURE MINISTRY. Some 1,500
students demonstrated outside the Slovak Culture Ministry on 17 March,
demanding that Culture Minister Ivan Hudec quit over his handling of a
strike by actors and theater staff last week. The demonstration ended
after an hour, international media reported. Last week Hudec called in
police to end a sit-in in his ministry by actors and their supporters.
The actors and other artists have protested against what they see as
state interference in cultural policy. -- Jiri Pehe

CZECH PREMIER IN HUNGARY. Visiting Czech Premier Vaclav Klaus declared
on 17 March that the Czech Republic and Hungary share identical
interests and that the two governments conduct an intense political
dialogue on integration issues, Hungarian media reported. Both Klaus and
his Hungarian counterpart Gyula Horn stressed that the two countries are
not rivals for NATO and EU membership. They also expressed satisfaction
with bilateral ties and said they plan to sign health-care and social-
policy agreements. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NEW ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER TO MEET REBEL LEADERS. Bashkim Fino
announced he will visit insurgent leaders in southern Albania, after
they threatened to march on Tirana demanding President Sali Berisha's
immediate resignation. The insurgents, meeting in Belci--a small town
near Fier--had delivered an ultimatum to Berisha demanding his
resignation by 18 March. They also said that "Fino, whose authority we
recognize, must not cooperate with the arrangements made by Berisha or
we will withdraw our confidence in him," Reuters reported. Greek Foreign
Minister Theodoros Pangalos said Berisha's resignation would be "the
simplest way" to resolve the crisis. Meanwhile, over 700 Albanian
refugees arrived in Puglia on 17 March and more vessels were heading for
the Italian coast the following day, Italian border guards told AFP. The
latest arrivals bring the total number of refugees to land in Italy
since 13 March to around 7,000. One ship with 487 people on board
berthed at Brindisi with some difficulty after encountering engine
trouble. Reception facilities in southern Italy are overfilled. --
Fabian Schmidt

EU MISSION IN TIRANA. The UN Security Council on 17 March urged Albanian
authorities to cooperate with a EU fact-finding mission that arrived in
Tirana the same day. The 11-member team was mandated by a meeting of EU
foreign ministers the previous day in Apeldoorn which ended without
agreement on sending troops to Albania. Italian Foreign Minister
Lamberto Dini estimated that assistance to Albania would be carried out
by "between 100 and 150 civilians." German Chancellor Helmut Kohl also
ruled out military intervention. The mission's findings are to be
presented to EU foreign ministers in Brussels on 24 March. Meeting the
EU team, Berisha said rapid assistance, mainly in food and medicine, was
vital to restore order. Meanwhile, life in Tirana returned to near-
normal on 17 March, with shops open, public transport running, and civil
servants back in offices. Schools, however, stayed closed, an overnight
curfew and strict controls on the press remained in effect, and Rinas
airport stayed shut. -- Fabian Schmidt

SERBIAN PARLIAMENT PRAISES TREATY WITH BOSNIAN SERBS. The Serbian
parliament on 17 March adopted a declaration supporting the treaty
signed last month aimed at strengthening ties between the Bosnian Serb
entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,
local media reported. Some deputies questioned the purpose of the
declaration, since the pact is between the Republika Srpska and the
federal Yugoslav state. The pro-government daily Vecernje Novosti wrote
that the declaration was meant as a show of support for the "spiritual
unification of Serbian people and erased borders." The Serbian
parliament also recommended that the federal parliament ratify the pact
later this week. But French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette asked
federal Yugoslav authorities to delay ratification until the High
Representative for Bosnia, Carl Bildt, confirms the agreement conforms
with the Dayton peace accords, Nasa Borba reported. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIAN POLICE RETURN KURDS TO ISTANBUL. Some 100 Kurds from Turkey were
arrested by Bosnian police in Sarajevo on 17 March under suspicion of
trying to reach Western countries illegally and were deported the same
day, Oslobodjenje reported. An anonymous caller had informed the police
that a local tourist agency was smuggling Kurds to Germany via Bosnia-
Herzegovina for a price up to $2,500, international agencies reported.
Turkish citizens can enter Bosnia and stay up to three months without a
visa. Police confirmed an increased inflow of Kurds with legal Turkish
documents to Sarajevo; Oslobodjenje put the number in the city before
the arrests at 400-500. In other news, Berlin authorities said on 17
March they would step up the forced repatriation of Bosnian refugees
unless they started returning home voluntarily, Reuters reported. But
Berlin's Interior Minister Joerg Schoenbohm said they rule out the
forcible return of Muslims who were expelled from Serb areas, and of
traumatized refugees. -- Daria Sito Sucic

LOYALIST DAILY CONFIRMS MILOSEVIC'S DESIGNS ON FEDERAL PRESIDENCY. For
the first time, pro-regime media have said Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic is likely to run for the federal Yugoslav presidency, AFP
reported. Vecernje Novosti wrote on 14 March that he "very probably"
will seek the post. The pro-government daily thereby seemed to confirm
long-standing speculation among observers of Serbian politics that
Milosevic intends to beef up the powers of the federal presidency and
then obtain the office for himself. The federal parliament, which is
dominated by Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, will elect the
president in June. Milosevic is constitutionally barred from seeking a
further term as Serbian president. Current Yugoslav President Zoran
Lilic is widely regarded as Milosevic's loyal follower. -- Patrick Moore

OSCE CALLS ON SERBIA TO OPEN UP TO OPPOSITION. Danish Foreign Minister
Niels Helveg Petersen, the current chair of the OSCE, met with Serbian
opposition leaders Vuk Draskovic and Vesna Pesic in Copenhagen on 17
March, international news agencies reported. Following the talks with
them and with student leader Ivan Pravdic, Helveg Petersen told the
press: "It is tremendously important that the upcoming elections are
well-prepared and that the opposition has free access to the media ^ I
believe the government now should establish a dialogue with the
opposition and give [it] real access to the media." The OSCE has made
recommendations on democratization to the regime of President Slobodan
Milosevic in recent weeks, but the opposition leaders said the
government is dragging its feet. -- Patrick Moore

ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER STEPS BACK FROM HUNGARIAN UNIVERSITY PROMISE.
Victor Ciorbea, after promising shortly before his visit to Budapest
earlier this month to reopen the Hungarian-language Bolyai University in
Cluj, now says the final say will depend on the existing Babes-Bolyai
University's faculty senate, because universities enjoy autonomy, Radio
Bucharest reported on 17 March. Ciorbea and President Emil
Constantinescu had earlier clarified that the Hungarian university,
closed in 1958, would re-open as a Hungarian section within the unified
Babes-Bolyai university (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 March 1997).
Ciorbea's recent statement was made at a meeting with the university's
two ethnic Romanian deputy rectors, who oppose the move and have
threatened to resign in protest. Ciorbea added that a separate,
independent Hungarian-language university could be set up elsewhere,
provided it respected relevant laws. On 18 March, Romania libera printed
a declaration of the Cluj branch chairman of Ciorbea's party, the
National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, opposing any change in the
Babes-Bolyai University status quo. -- Michael Shafir

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS IN DEFENSE OF EXTREMIST. Senators
representing the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, the Party of
Romanian National Unity, and the Greater Romania Party (PRM) walked out
of Senate debates on 17 March, announcing they would not participate in
the house's work before meeting with President Emil Constantinescu,
Romanian TV reported. The three opposition parties, which are protesting
the manner in which PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor was stripped of his
parliamentary immunity (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 March), said the
ruling coalition had turned down a "compromise proposal," according to
which the Constitutional Court would be asked to express its opinion. On
18 March, however, Senate Chairman Petre Roman said he had decided to
ask the court's opinion himself. Radio Bucharest reported that the three
factions are also likely to boycott debates in the Chamber of Deputies,
the other house of the bi-cameral parliament. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER PRESENTS STABILIZATION PROGRAM. Caretaker Prime
Minister Stefan Sofiyansky presented on national television on 17 March
the main measures of a program aimed at stabilizing the country's
economy. He called for understanding and support, admitting the program
could cost as many as 58,000 people their jobs. Sofiyansky said the
government would compensate them and strive to create new jobs rather
than continue subsidizing failing industries. All prices would be fully
liberalized except for temporary continuation of subsidies for bread,
milk, white cheese, and chicken. Wages would be increased by 70 percent
starting 1 April, and a new social-security system would be created.
Earlier, RFE/RL reported that Bulgaria had reached a tentative agreement
with key IMF officials to create a national finance board with power to
introduce tough austerity measures to rescue the economy. Sofianski and
Anne McGuirk, head of an IMF mission to Bulgaria, announced plans by the
IMF to provide Bulgaria with credits totaling about 700 million dollars.
The accord still needs formal IMF approval. The finance board is be set
up in Bulgaria before the end of June. -- Michael Shafir

[As of 12:00 CET]

Compiled by Tom Warner

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

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 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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RUSSIAN REGIONAL REPORT
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