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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 5, Part II, 7 April 1997


Vol. 1, No. 5, Part II, 7 April 1997

This is Part II of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Newsline.
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 RFE/RL NewsLine are available through RFE/RL's
WWW pages:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/
Back  issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through OMRI's
WWW pages:
http://www.omri.cz/Index.html

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BELARUS TO RETAIN SEPARATE STATEHOOD
UKRAINE LIFTS RESTRICTIONS ON RUSSIAN MILITARY PLANES
HUNGARIANS FARMERS' LEADER THREATENS TO ATTACK PARLIAMENT


CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BELARUS TO RETAIN SEPARATE STATEHOOD. Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told a press conference
yesterday that Belarus's new alliance with Russia does not
mean a loss of statehood for either country. According to
Lukashenka, unification will "take place in line with the EU
model, where each of the members retains its sovereignty."
Lukashenka was speaking after meeting in Minsk with Juan
Antonio Samaranch, the president of the International
Olympic Committee. Interfax quotes Lukashenka as saying
that Belarusian athletes will continue to compete at the
Olympic Games and other international competitions under
the Belarusian state flag.

BELARUS UNDER FIRE FROM INTERNATIONAL
ORGANIZATIONS. The EU has called the human rights
situation in Belarus "inadmissible." In a memorandum sent to
Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antonovich on 4 April, the
organization criticized Belarus for its failure to uphold press
freedom and the right of citizens to demonstrate freely. Also on
4 April, the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in
Europe sent a letter to President Lukashenka condemning
what it says are blatant violations of human rights in Belarus,
RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reported. Meanwhile,
Christopher Willoughby, the World Bank's representative in
Minsk, has criticized Belarus for having one of the least
liberalized economies in the region.

UKRAINE LIFTS RESTRICTIONS ON RUSSIAN MILITARY
PLANES. Ukraine has agreed to lift restrictions on Russian
military planes flying over its territory. The Russian Defense
Ministry announced on 5 April that the decision followed a
telephone conversation between Russian military chief of staff
Gen. Viktor Samsonov and his Ukrainian counterpart,
Alexander Zatynaiko. Ukraine temporarily restricted Russian
military planes from its skies after what it described as a
series of unannounced Russian flights into air space over the
Black Sea under Ukraine's jurisdiction. Russia's air force
denied the accusations. Russia says its aircraft were flying
over "neutral waters." Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma told a press conference in Kyiv on 5 April that actions
taken by "individual officials," as in the case of the Russian
planes, should not be allowed to damage relations between
Ukraine and Russia.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ON SLOW PACE OF REFORMS...
Kuchma says the country's reform process has stagnated and
that both the government and the parliament are to blame.
Speaking to journalists in Kyiv on 5 April, Kuchma argued that
the government's and parliament's actions are an inadequate
response to the "level of tension in society." He also noted that
the parliament's productivity is low and that approval of
important economic laws and land reform is being blocked.
Kuchma confirmed a government reshuffle will be announced
next week. He said there will also be a reduction in the
number of state agencies and civil servants.

...AND ON SPEEDING UP TREATY WITH ROMANIA. Kuchma
says he wants to meet with his Romanian counterpart, Emil
Constantinescu, in order to expedite the conclusion of the
basic treaty between the two countries, RFE/RL's Romanian
Service reported on 6 April, citing the independent Mediafax
agency. The last round of treaty talks took place in Bucharest
at the end of March. Since then, the talks appear to have
stalled.

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON RUSSIANS IN BALTICS.
Members of the Baltics' Russian Assembly--composed of
Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian deputies from ethnic
Russian parties--met in Tallinn this weekend to discuss the
situation of ethnic Russians living in the Baltic States,
RFE/RL's Estonian Service and BNS reported. In a
communique released yesterday, the participants expressed
concern about the limited possibilities for Russian-language
education in Estonia and Latvia and about internal difficulties
within the Estonian and Latvian Orthodox Churches.  The
conference also supported Belarusian President Lukashenka's
attempts to "unite the Slavic people." The Baltics' Russian
Assembly was set up in 1995. Deputies from the Russian and
Belarusian legislatures also participated in this weekend's
meeting.

ESTONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN LITHUANIA. Toomas
Hendrik Ilves met with Lithuanian leaders in Vilnius on 4 April
and discussed bilateral relations, NATO and EU enlargement,
and relations with neighboring countries. BNS reported. He is
the first Estonian foreign minister to make an official visit to
Lithuania since World War 11. At a press conference, Ilves and
his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Saudargas, agreed that a
planned U.S.-Baltic security charter has to be concluded with
each Baltic state separately. They confirmed the charter is not
linked with the forthcoming NATO summit in Madrid.

COMMUNIST-ERA POLICEMEN SENTENCED IN POLAND. A
Warsaw court has sentenced two former policemen for their
involvement in the events that led to the death of Grzegorz
Przemyk in May 1983, RFE/RL's Warsaw correspondent
reported. A third policemen was acquitted. The 19-year-old
Przemyk was beaten to death by policemen, and his funeral
was one of the most poignant events to follow the imposition of
martial law in December 1981. Arkadiusz Denkiewicz was
sentenced to four years in prison (commuted to two years
under the 1989 amnesty) for inciting other policemen to beat
Przemyk. Kazimierz Otlowski received a suspended 18-month
sentence for concealing evidence and obstructing an
investigation into Przemyk's death in 1989-1990.

POLAND TO ESTABLISH CEMETERIES FOR VICTIMS OF
STALIN PURGES IN RUSSIA, UKRAINE. Andrzej Przewoznik,
head of the Polish Council for the Protection of Memorial Sites,
says Warsaw will establish three cemeteries  in Russia and
Ukraine over the next two years for Polish victims of Soviet
dictator Josef Stalin's purges. Przewoznik was quoted by
Reuters on 5 April as saying Poland  will start in September to
set up cemeteries in Katyn and Miednoye, in Russia, and in
Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine. Poland began to exhume remains
of purge victims at those sites three years ago. Russian
authorities granted permission for the cemeteries late last
year.

CZECH FOREIGN POLICY INITIATIVES.  Greek Foreign
Minister Teodoros Pangalos will hold talks in Prague today
with Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus and Foreign Minister
Josef Zieleniec. In a statement issued yesterday, the Czech
Foreign Ministry said the aim of Pangalos's visit is to intensify
dialogue between both countries before integration into EU
structures. Meanwhile, Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus
discussed economic ties with Chinese Deputy Prime Minister
Wu Bangguo in Prague on 4 April. A statement released by
Klaus' office after the meeting said there is a need for further
talks between Beijing and Prague on human rights. Czech
human rights groups protested Wu's visit.

SLOVAK GOVERNING PARTY WANTS APOLOGY FROM
CZECH PRESIDENT. The Movement for a Democratic Slovakia
(HZDS) on 4 April demanded that Vaclav Havel apologize for
remarks he made in an interview with a French newspaper last
week.  The Czech president was quoted by Le Figaro as saying
HZDS chairman and Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar
suffer from paranoia. Havel's comment was in response to
Meciar's suggestion that an international conspiracy is trying
to prevent Slovakia from becoming a NATO member.

SLOVAK DEPUTY MINISTER DEFENDS JOINT VENTURE
WITH GAZPROM. Jan Ducky says the plans to set up a joint-
venture between the Slovak Gas Industry company (SPP) and
the Russian company Gazprom have been misunderstood.
Ducky spoke on 4 April at his first press conference since he
was appointed director of the SPP. Slovak opposition media
and politicians have criticized the planned venture, arguing it
will be disadvantageous for Slovakia and will make the country
more dependent on Russia. The project is to be discussed in
detail during Ducky's visit to Russia next week.

HUNGARIANS FARMERS' LEADER THREATENS TO
ATTACK PARLIAMENT. Gyula Kosa, leader of the farmers'
union Metesz, told a rally at Tomorkeny on 5 April that if
necessary, "farmers will demonstrate in front of the
parliament, break doors down with axes, and clear out the riff-
raff,' MTI reported. Agricultural workers have recently staged
demonstrations against a law increasing their income and
social security taxes. Meanwhile in Budapest, several
thousand people demonstrated on 4 April in support of Agnes
Maczo Nagy of the Independent Smallholders' Party, who has
been criticized for making anti-Semitic remarks in the
parliament. The demonstration was organized by
ultranationalists.

NEW HUNGARIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF. Prime Minister
Gyula Horn  has appointed Jozsef Szasz as director-general of
the Intelligence Office, the Hungarian media reported on 4
April. Laszlo Komjathy is Szasz's deputy. Both men have
worked for more than 20 years in the intelligence services.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN PREMIER LAUNCHES PROBE OF ARMED
INCIDENT. On 5 April, some 50 armed men set off two
grenades and fired shots into the air to block the road between
Tirana and Shkoder, forcing Bashkim Fino to turn back. Fino
had been on his way to talk to local officials in the northern
region, which has not sided with the armed rebellion in the
south. Fino set up an investigation the next day, RFE/RL
reported. Shkoder police promised action against those
responsible for the "ugly act."

ANNAN CALLS FOR QUICK DEPLOYMENT OF TROOPS TO
ALBANIA. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today that
the eight-nation intervention force should go to Albania as
soon as possible, adding that speed "is of the essence." The
first of up to 6,000 troops are slated to start arriving on 14
April. In the Vatican yesterday, Pope John Paul II urged
politicians to have the "necessary courage to intervene" to end
the chaos.

LOOTERS TOOK CHEMICAL, RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCES
IN ALBANIA. An army officer appealed to looters on television
yesterday to hand back the lethal chemical and radioactive
materials they took from four military bases in recent weeks.
The small radioactive objects contain strontium or cobalt and
come from radar installations. In other news, six young people
were hurt in Vlora after playing with grenades and other
weapons.

ANOTHER MONASTERY SHELLED IN BOSNIA. Three rifle
grenades struck a Roman Catholic monastery at Kraljeva
Sutjeska, central Bosnia, on 5 April. It was the latest in a
series of attacks on Catholic and Muslim religious buildings
and reflects the tensions between the two nominal allies. The
two sides, nonetheless, resumed joint police patrols in Mostar
the previous day after a break of almost two months. Also on 4
April, a spokesman for the international community said that
the Bosnian Serbs will not be allowed to demand transit visas
from people traveling to see the pope in the Bosnian capital
next weekend, RFE/RL reported.

U.S. BACKS DEMOCRATIZATION IN SERBIA. The three
leaders of the Zajedno coalition met with Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright on 4 April. Her spokesman said that
Washington especially wants to promote media freedom and
roundtable talks in the runup to the next elections, RFE/RL
reported. He also accused the Serbian authorities of brutality
and intransigence in Kosovo.

SLAVONIAN UPDATE. The Serbs in eastern Slavonia held a
referendum yesterday to demand that they constitute a single
administrative unit with a Serbian majority when the area re-
joins Croatia in July. Croatia plans to re-establish two
counties in which the prewar majorities were Croatian. Both
Zagreb and the local UN authorities have said the referendum
is invalid. The UN says, however, that voters now have until
Tuesday to register for Croatian local and regional elections on
13 April,  RFE/RL reported. In other news, the government on
4 April announced a project to build 2,000 flats quickly for
Croatian refugees going home to Vukovar.

GARMENT WORKERS STRIKE IN ZAGREB. More than 2,000
garment workers protested on 4 April against worsening
working and living conditions. Talks between the government
and unions start today, and the government says it hopes to
reach a deal by the end of the month, RFE/RL reported. The
government calls Croatia a prosperous country, but most
ordinary people have difficulty making ends meet.

SLOVENIA PRESSES FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP. President
Milan Kucan met recently  with outgoing NATO commander
Gen. George Joulwan and Turkish President Suleyman
Demirel. Slovenia wants to be in the first group of East
European countries to join the Atlantic alliance in order to
further distance itself  from the other former Yugoslav
republics. The Slovenian defense minister hosted his Italian
and Hungarian counterparts on Friday to discuss future joint
exercises. But a recent poll shows that only 42% of the
Slovenian population backs NATO membership, while 73% do
not want Slovenian troops going to crisis areas under any
circumstances, RFE/RL said.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DENIES GOVERNMENT WANTS TO
POLITICIZE BANKS. Emil Constantinescu has denied that the
ruling coalition intends to politicize the banking system and
other state-owned companies, RFE/RL reported.
Constantinescu was responding yesterday to opposition
protests following announcements by leading coalition
members that the government intends to replace the managers
of state-owned banks in order to 'speed up the reform process.'
Constantinescu said the government will discuss a draft law
on the privatization of banks this week. He also said there
were attempts to mislead the public over the IMF's position on
Romania. An IMF delegation led by Poul Thomsen, the
organization's chief negotiator for Romania, arrives in
Bucharest today for what is reported to be an unexpected visit
reflecting IMF dissatisfaction with the Romanian economy.

TRANSYLVANIAN UNIVERSITY TO BE RESTRUCTURED.
The Romanian-Hungarian-German committee of the Babes-
Bolyay University in Cluj has recommended setting up
departments offering instruction in each of the three
languages, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The decision
is to be implemented after necessary amendments to the
education law have been made. Bishop Laszlo Tokes, honorary
chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania
(UDMR), has criticized both UDMR chairman Bela Marko and
Premier Victor Ciorbea for breaking their promise to set up a
separate Hungarian university. Marko said the problem has to
be solved within the larger context of amending the education
law and the law on local administration.

MOLDOVA, ROMANIA TO RESUME PARLEYS ON BASIC
TREATY. Moldovan Foreign Minister Mihai Popov and his
Romanian counterpart, Adrian Severin, have agreed to resume
talks on the bilateral basic treaty, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. Popov and Severin met in the Romanian capital on 5
April. Talks on the treaty ground to a halt in fall 1996. The
Moldovan daily Flux reports that Moldova wants to speed up
the conclusion of the treaty before the NATO summit in Madrid
in July, BASA-press reported on 5 April. Flux also says that
Chisinau is trying to exploit the upcoming summit. It
maintains that Moldovan leaders want to persuade Bucharest
to recognize existing borders because one of the conditions for
NATO admission, which Romania is eagerly pursuing, is the
resolution of all border disputes.

BULGARIAN ELECTION POLL.  A recent Gallup opinion poll
shows the United Democratic Forces (ODS) and its allies
leading the Socialists by more than 30 percentage points,
RFE/RL reported. The poll, published on 4 April, gives the
ODS 62% support and the Socialists 16-17%. The  Union for
National Salvation--composed of the ethnic Turkish Movement
for Rights and Freedom, former President Zheylu Zhelev's
Liberal Alternative, and an agrarian party--and the Euro-
Leftists each received 4.5% backing. General elections are
scheduled for 19 April.

BULGARIA TO BUY RUSSIAN PLANES? Bulgaria is ready to
buy 14 Russian MiG 29s, provided that it receives a $450
million credit from Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported.
Nezavisimaya gazeta on 4 April quoted Boris Kuzyk, Russian
presidential adviser on arms sales abroad, as saying Bulgaria
already has some 20 MiG 29s of an earlier type and needs to
upgrade the Plodviv factory to maintain the aircraft. He said
the factory would also be able to repair MiG fighters belonging
to Asian and African nations, which 'would allow Bulgaria to
earn millions of dollars every year.'




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