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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 20, Part II, 28 April 1997


Vol. 1, No. 20, Part II, 28 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
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Headlines, Part II

* CHORNOBYL DISASTER REMEMBERED

* HAS ANOTHER ALBANIAN EXODUS BEGUN?

* UN WARNS ZAGREB, BELGRADE AGAINST
CONFRONTATION

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION CONFERENCE
STARTS. Officials and corporate leaders from throughout the
Black Sea region began converging on Istanbul yesterday for a
Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) conference,
international agencies reported. Leaders from Ukraine,
Azerbaijan, Moldova, Georgia, and Romania are arriving today.
More than 400 businessmen and representatives from 35
countries are participating. The discussions will end on 30
April with a meeting of the foreign ministers of the BSEC
member countries.

CHORNOBYL DISASTER REMEMBERED. Ukraine, Belarus,
and Russia on 26 April marked the 11th anniversary of the
Chornobyl disaster with official ceremonies that drew
thousands of mourners. In Ukraine, ceremonies remembering
those who died in the explosion and its aftermath were held at
the Chornobyl site and in Kyiv, Ukrainian media reported. In
Minsk, more than 20,000 people took part in a march to mark
the anniversary and to protest President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka's efforts to form a closer union between Belarus
and Russia. An official commemoration ceremony in Minsk
reportedly drew only 500 people. Russian President Boris
Yeltsin praised the courage of those who battled to contain the
Chornobyl nuclear disaster but said more needed to be done to
help its victims, Reuters reported.

NEW PARTY HOLDS CONGRESS IN MINSK. A new liberal
political party called Yabloko held its constituent congress in
Minsk yesterday, RFE/RL's correspondent in the Belarusian
capital reported. According to its program, Yabloko favors
democracy and a social market economy as well as the defense
of civil rights over any state or religious interests. Seventy
delegates from around the country attended the congress. The
group has no affiliation with the Russian party of the same
name, although a Russian Yabloko delegation headed by
Grigorii Yavlinskii were among the guests at the congress.

G-7 FINANCE MINISTERS EXPRESS CONCERN ABOUT
UKRAINE. The finance ministers and central bank governors
of the G-7 group of major industrial nations say they are
"increasingly concerned" that Ukraine has been unable to
implement economic reforms, RFE/RL's Washington
correspondent reported. The ministers, who met in the U.S.
capital yesterday for their quarterly session, urged Kyiv to
"engage fully and quickly to implement" the program agreed
with the IMF late last year. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defense
Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk and several senior military
officers arrived in the U.S. yesterday to meet U.S. Secretary of
Defense William Cohen, State Department officials, and U.S.
Congress leaders. An embassy spokesman told RFE/RL that
discussions between Kuzmuk and Cohen will focus primarily
on Ukraine's involvement in NATO's Partnership for Peace
program.

KUCHMA SAYS CRIMEA WILL REMAIN PART OF UKRAINE.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma says that Ukraine's
ownership of the peninsula and the port city of Sevastopol is
not open to debate. He was speaking to journalists during his
trip to Crimea on 25 April. His comments were aimed at
Russia's upper house of the parliament, which recently urged
President Boris Yeltsin to raise the issue of Crimea's status
with Kuchma when he visits Kyiv in June. Kuchma stressed
that he and Yeltsin have already agreed that the Russian
portion of the divided Black Sea fleet will continue to be based
in Sevastopol and that the port will remain Ukrainian territory.

BALTIC ASSEMBLY MEETING IN PARNU. The three Baltic
prime ministers have agreed to dismantle the remaining
barriers to free trade between their countries, BNS and ETA
reported. The premiers met in the Estonian coastal town of
Parnu this weekend within the framework of the 10th session
of the Baltic Assembly, an inter-parliamentary advisory body.
Meanwhile, the assembly passed resolutions calling on NATO
to start membership talks with at least one Baltic country at
the alliance's July summit in Madrid and urging the Baltic
States to abolish the death penalty. The assembly also urged
the Baltic States to support Chechnya in political, economic,
and cultural terms but did not discuss recognition of Chechen
independence. A resolution submitted by Latvia expressing
concern about "infringements of democracy" in Belarus was
rejected. Maris Rudzitis, leader of the Latvian delegation, said
the resolution might have been viewed as interference in
Belarusian internal affairs.

POLISH SENATE REJECTS REINTRODUCTION OF DEATH
PENALTY. The upper house of the Polish parliament on 26
April rejected a proposal to reinstate capital punishment,
Reuters reported. The vote was taken during a debate on the
country's new penal code, which has been ratified by the lower
house of parliament. According to public opinion surveys, the
majority of Poles want the death penalty reinstated for the
most serious offenses. A moratorium on the death penalty was
in place until it was officially abolished in March. The last
execution in Poland was carried out in 1988.

NEW POLISH AGRICULTURE MINISTER. President
Alexander Kwasniewski on 25 April appointed Jaroslaw
Kalinowski as agriculture minister, Reuters reported.
Kalinowski, a member of the co-ruling Peasant Party (PSL),
advocates protectionism in agriculture. Speaking to reporters
in Warsaw following his appointment, Kalinowski pledged
more efficient protectionist measures that are "compatible with
Warsaw's international agreements." Kalinowski declined to
give details about his views on market reforms. but said he
supports "family-owned European-style farms."

POPE URGES CZECH TO RENEW RELIGIOUS FAITH.
During his visit to the Czech Republic this weekend, Pope
John Paul II urged Czechs to renew their faith in religion and
warned them not to succumb to the temptations of a
consumer society. He also spoke out against secularization,
saying it is an "acute threat for wide parts of Europe" and
urging the country's economic advances to be matched by
spiritual progress. On 26 April, the pontiff commemorated the
1,000th anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Adalbert, the
first Prague bishop of Czech origin, in the Bohemian town of
Hradec Kralove. Yesterday, he celebrated a mass in Prague
attended by more than 100,000 people.

RUSSIAN PREMIER IN SLOVAKIA. Viktor Chernomyrdin,
who arrived in Bratislava today for a two-day visit, is expected
to sign agreements on military and technical cooperation and
on the protection of classified information, TASR reported. On
26 April, Jan Ducky, chairman of the Slovak Gas Company,
said a proposed agreement on creating a joint venture between
state-run Slovak and Russian gas companies will not be
signed during Chernomyrdin's visit. Ducky gave no
explanation.

SLOVAK REFERENDUM COMMISSION CLASHES WITH
GOVERNMENT. The Central Referendum Commission on 25
April ruled that the government's suspension of a referendum
on direct presidential election violates the law, RFE/RL's
Bratislava Bureau reported. The government last week ordered
the distribution of ballots to be halted pending a
Constitutional Court ruling on whether the basic law can be
changed by referendum. President Michal Kovac has argued
the distribution should proceed unhindered. In his weekly
radio address on 25 April, Premier Vladimir Meciar rejected
the commission's decision, saying that "state institutions will
follow the government's resolutions and implement them
without any discussion."

HUNGARIAN ROUND-TABLE ON AGRICULTURAL CRISIS.
Prime Minister Gyula Horn has called for national unity to
promote progress in the agricultural sector, Hungarian media
reported. Horn was speaking at the opening of a 26 April
round-table on the country's current agricultural crisis, which
was attended by experts and representatives of the
government. He noted that while Hungary is adjusting its
agricultural policies to comply with those of the EU, it must
continue to "reasonably" defend its own interests. The
participants agreed on a15-point long-term agricultural
program calling for subsidies to agriculture to be at least 2.5%
of GDP and for an annual growth in agriculture of at least
3.5%. Agriculture Minister Frigyes Nagy said the round-table
will meet again in September.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

HAS ANOTHER ALBANIAN EXODUS BEGUN? Italian coast
guard officials in Barletta said yesterday that their vessels
escorted a boat jammed with 571 Albanians into the harbor
after the Albanian captain sent out a distress call. The boat
was built to carry fewer than 50 passengers and reportedly
came from northern Albania. More than 13,000 refugees have
fled by boat to southern Italy since February. The flood of
refugees came to a temporary halt after 28 March, when a boat
carrying scores of Albanians collided with an Italian navy ship
and sank in rough waters. But recently, the smuggling of
people and drugs from Albania to Italy has increased,
according to the Italian authorities.

ALBANIAN AUTHORITIES BAN ISSUE OF INDEPENDENT
DAILY. Nikolla Lesi, the publisher of Albania's main
independent daily, Koha Jone, told news agencies in Tirana
yesterday that a government ban on yesterday's issue of his
newspaper is unjustified. The issue was to have included an
article detailing calls by citizens' committees in the Vlora area
for daily demonstrations warning against any postponement of
the June elections. Officials prohibited distribution of the issue
saying that the article violated emergency measures imposed
to quell recent unrest. Lesi pointed out, however, that the
government has already lifted those restrictions. Koha Jone
has long been a thorn in the side of President Sali Berisha's
Democratic Party. Unidentified persons torched the
newspaper's offices in March.

ALBANIAN ROUNDUP. Some 14 dissident Democratic Party
deputies announced in Tirana on 26 April that they have set
up the Movement for Democracy (MDP). They hope to form a
coalition with other centrist and conservative parties after the
June vote. In Shkoder, about 5,000 people turned out to
welcome Leka Zogu, the claimant to the throne. Some
supporters hope he will bring a quick fix for a host of
problems.

UN WARNS ZAGREB, BELGRADE AGAINST
CONFRONTATION. The Security Council in New York voted
on 25 April to urge Croatia and federal Yugoslavia to respect
the demilitarized status of the Prevlaka peninsula and to
refrain from any provocative actions. Recent days have seen
the movement of Croatian heavy weapons and special police
units in the area as well as the presence of Yugoslav rocket-
launching gunboats. Prevlaka is Croatian territory, but
Belgrade wants the peninsula since it provides access to
Yugoslavia's only naval base, which is located at Kotor.
Prevlaka is currently demilitarized and under UN supervision.
Meanwhile, Jacques Klein, the UN administrator in eastern
Slavonia, told the Vienna daily Die Presse on 25 April that
Belgrade and Zagreb should set up a 50-km demilitarized
border zone along the Danube.

BILDT TELLS CROATS, SERBS NOT TO MAKE OWN LAND
DEAL. Carl Bildt, the international community's high
representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, warned the leading
Croatian and Serbian political parties not to try to redraw
inter-entity borders by themselves. An RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Sarajevo on 25 April that Bildt reminded the two
parties that all sides would have to agree to any frontier
revisions (see RFE/RL Newsline, 25 April 1997). Meanwhile in
the disputed strategic town of Brcko, Bosnian Serbs attacked
and injured Muslims in two separate incidents yesterday. And
in Sarajevo, Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the joint
presidency, vowed on 25 April to free the three Muslim
prisoners in Zvornik, whom the Bosnian Serbs have sentenced
to 20 years in prison.

SERBIA'S DRASKOVIC ON THE STUMP IN MOSCOW. Vuk
Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement and
presidential candidate of the Zajedno coalition, said in Moscow
on 25 April that Belgrade and Sarajevo should normalize
relations. He added, however, that the results of "ethnic
cleansing" should not be legitimized in the process and that all
refugees from across the former Yugoslavia must be free to go
home. Draskovic argued that real normalization will be
possible only when those responsible for the war have gone
from office.

MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT WILL REIMBURSE PYRAMID
SCHEME VICTIMS. Finance Minister Taki Fiti said in Skopje
on 24 April that the government will make $12 million
available to help offset citizens' losses in the collapsed TAT
investment scheme. Some of the money will come from selling
off TAT's remaining assets. IMF officials helped the
Macedonian government draw up the plan, which is aimed at
protecting economic stability and the denar, the national
currency. Macedonia is determined not to let Albanian-style
problems arise following TAT's collapse, in which some 30,000
people lost a total of between $28 million and $60 million.

NEW BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT TO CONVENE ON 7 MAY.
Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov issued a decree late last
week saying the newly elected parliament will convene on 7
May. Leader of the Union of Democratic Forces Ivan Kostov,
who is likely to be the country's next premier, said the same
day that he expects the new cabinet to be formed by 20 May,
RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Meanwhile, caretaker Interior
Minister Bogumil Bonev says it may be too late to open
communist secret police files on public officials because they
have probably been "tampered with." Bonev said he suspects
the files were "selectively destroyed" during the rule of the
Socialist Party, which was in power for six of the last seven
years. Kostov last week said he wanted communist police files
on members of the parliament and the government and on
Supreme Court judges made accessible to the public.

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON NATO
ENLARGEMENT. Stoyan Stalev on 25 April said there ought to
be a special status for the former communist countries that
want to become NATO members and fail to be admitted in the
first wave of the organization's enlargement. He spoke to
reporters after meeting the alliance's 16 ambassadors at
NATO's headquarters in Brussels, Reuters reported. Stalev
said such a status would differentiate those countries from
states that do not wish to join the alliance but participate in
the Partnership for Peace program.

FORMER BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER TO BE
INVESTIGATED. An investigation is to be launched into
Lyubomir Nachev and seven other officials of the Interior
Ministry under the former socialist government. RFE/RL's
Sofia bureau on 25 April reported that Nachev is suspected of
having illegally obtained a large apartment in the center of the
capital. The other officials, including two of Nachev's deputies,
are suspected of embezzlement.

FORMER ROMANIAN MONARCH CELEBRATES EASTER IN
TIMISOARA. King Mihai celebrated Orthodox Easter by
attending the midnight Resurrection mass in the cathedral of
the western town of Timisoara yesterday. Tens of thousands of
worshippers also took part in the mass. Romanian TV offered
interchanging live broadcast of the Timisoara event and the
mass celebrated by the Patriarchate in Bucharest, which was
attended by President Emil Constantinescu, RFE/RL
correspondents in the capital and Timisoara reported. The
former monarch will also visit the central town of Brasov and
the north-eastern town of Iasi. His trip ends on 7 May in
Bucharest.

IMF URGES MOLDOVA TO ACCELERATE REFORMS. At the
end of a two-week visit to Moldova, an IMF delegation told
President Petru Lucinschi that the government must
accelerate economic reforms. BASA-press on 25 April quoted
Lucinschi as responding that the government is now working
on a program aimed at de-monopolizing the energy sector and
making it possible to sell and buy land. He also noted that the
executive is drawing up plans to reform the pension system.
Earlier last week, the president told the cabinet that if
"unpopular measures" are not taken immediately, the
country's economic "disease" would not be "cured." Finance
Minister Valeriu Chitan said that GDP in the first three
months of 1997 had declined by 8%, compared with the same
period last year. The country is facing difficulties in paying its
external debt, he noted.

THE MYSTERIOUS EXIT OF ROMANIA'S INTELLIGENCE CHIEF

by Michael Shafir

        The resignation last week of Virgil Magureanu, the director of
the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), is clouded in mystery.
Appropriately so, since the 56-year-old is an enigmatic figure with
many different allegiances. Along with former President Ion Iliescu,
the former party university lecturer belonged to the group that had
been planning to overthrow dictator Nicolae Ceausescu since the
1970s. The group's various schemes invariably failed, but when the
dictator was swept from power in a 1989 popular uprising, the
plotters were on hand to fill the power vacuum.
        Magureanu was also among the handful of people who
attended the show-trial preceding the execution of Ceausescu and his
wife, Elena, on Christmas Day 1989. He became a member of Iliescu's
inner circle in the transitional Council of the National Salvation Front
(NSF) and in its successor, the National Unity Council. In April 1990,
he was appointed head of the SRI, which had been set up the
previous month; and, in the May 1990 elections, he was elected a
senator on the NSF's lists. He subsequently resigned as senator
because, under Romanian law, he could not hold both posts
simultaneously.
        But it was not only those two posts that were legally
incompatible. The post of intelligence chief would not have been
filled by someone with Magureanu's past if the letter of the law had
been respected in the first place. In late 1995, when he published his
own personal file to preempt its publication by a former friend
turned bitter foe (Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extreme
nationalist Greater Romania Party), it transpired that he had served
as a captain in the dreaded Securitate, Ceausescu's secret police,
which was disbanded at the outset of the post-communist regime.
        The record of the SRI is no less tainted. In early 1990, it was
necessary to justify the setting up of a new secret service to replace
the Securitate. The occasion was provided by the March 1990 clashes
in Targu Mures between ethnic Hungarians and Romanians, in which
members of the former secret police took part as provocateurs on
either side. Although the SRI claimed to be largely free of Securitate
staff, evidence increasingly came to light refuting those claims.
Following the destruction of former secret police documents in 1991,
scandals involving illegal telephone tapping, and other "affairs" in
which the SRI seemed to be involved, Magureanu became a favorite
target of the democratic opposition.
        But to everyone's surprise, he was one of the very few to
survive the post-election transition. Some even claim that he
prevented Iliescu's party from falsifying the election results.
Moreover, in Delphian style, Magureanu said in October 1996 that he
was voting for "change." But precisely what that meant was unclear,
since the word had figured in the election slogans of both Iliescu and
his rival Emil Constantinescu, who went on to win the race for
president. Magureanu also noted at the time that he might consider
resigning and would not rule out entering politics.
        Earlier this month, attacks against Magureanu intensified just
as Bucharest's efforts to join NATO peaked with the arrival in
Washington of Foreign Minister Adrian Severin. Among those leading
the attacks were prominent Romanian emigres, including Gen. Ion
Mihai Pacepa, Ceausescu's former master spy who defected in the
1970s. Last week, Pacepa published an article in The Washington
Times claiming that Bucharest had no chance of joining NATO as long
as people with records like Magureanu's were heading the country's
intelligence service. The SRI responded by pointing to Pacepa's own
record before he defected. (Ironically, some of those attacking
Magureanu in the Romanian press were suggesting Pacepa as his
replacement.)
        Magureanu's mandate was to have expired in September, and it
is unclear whether he will leave his post immediately. But it seems
that he was waiting for the right moment to change career and that
he deemed his career chances would be improved if he could avoid
being blamed for Romania's likely failure to be admitted to NATO in
the first wave. As in the past, Magureanu will be simultaneously
feared and courted--not least because of the information the former
intelligence chief has amassed on the country's politicians.
        One such politician is Iliescu, currently chairman of the Party of
Social Democracy in Romania. At a recent PDSR meeting, Iliescu urged
the party to welcome Magureanu into its ranks if he decided to seek
membership. At the same time, he was wary of the possibility that
Magureanu might use the information he had collected "for political
purposes." Magureanu's mysterious exit from the secret service may
well herald his entry into politics. But that entry will doubtless be as
shadowy as many of his earlier comings and goings and will certainly
attract much attention among his detractors both at home and
abroad.


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