The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 23, Part II, 2 May 1997


Vol. 1, No. 23, Part II, 2 May 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/

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Headlines, Part II

* SUPPORTERS, OPPONENTS OF LUKASHENKA MARCH IN
BELARUS.

* GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA AND
SLOVAKIA.

* ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT THREATENS TO RESIGN OVER
VOTING LAW.

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

SUPPORTERS, OPPONENTS OF LUKASHENKA MARCH IN
BELARUS. Police in Minsk yesterday arrested Nikolai
Statkevich, the leader of the opposition Belarusian Social
Democratic Party, who tried to turn a pro-government
demonstration into a rally against President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka, RFE/RL's Minsk correspondent reported. More
than 20,000 people carrying portraits of Lukashenka and
hardline communists with portraits of Josef Stalin marched
side by side through Minsk to mark May Day. About 5,000
Lukashenka opponents marched separately and joined a
meeting with the communists and presidential supporters on
Independence Square, where Statkevich addressed the crowd.
He was detained for violating a decree by Lukashenka on
unsanctioned rallies.

SOROS FOUNDATION IN BELARUS FINED. Belarusian tax
officials have accused the Soros Foundation of violating the
status of a charitable organization and ordered it to pay
almost three million dollars in fines, foundation spokeswoman
Veronica Begun told journalists on 30 April. Tax inspectors
started an audit of the foundation in March, when the
government of Lukashenka barred the foundation's director
from returning to Belarus from a trip abroad. She said the
audit took issue with 19 grants the Foundation issued last
year, saying the projects did not correspond to their stated
goals. The U.S. yesterday voiced apprehension over Belarus's
handling of the Foundation. A State Department spokesman
told reporters that Belarus's stance in this matter would be a
sign of its attitude toward all non-governmental organizations.

UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER MEETS COHEN IN
WASHINGTON. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen met
yesterday in Washington with Ukrainian Defense Minister
Oleksandr Kuzmuk, and praised Ukraine's choice to get rid of
the nuclear weapons it inherited after the collapse of the
Soviet Union, RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reported.
Cohen and Kuzmuk signed an agreement that will provide
Kyiv with an additional $47 million in U.S. assistance for the
destruction of nuclear weapons. Ukraine has received more
than $400 million in U.S. aid for missile destruction.

U.N. URGES UKRAINE TO TAKE STEPS AGAINST
TORTURE. The U.N. Committee against Torture, citing
Amnesty International reports of alleged torture by Ukrainian
officials during investigations, yesterday urged Ukraine to
adopt a new criminal code defining torture as a punishable
crime, Reuters reported. The committee expressed concern
over what it called a lack of independent institutions to
investigate complaints of torture. It also said it was concerned
by beatings which it said were routinely carried out in
initiating military recruits. The committee noted what it said
was Ukraine's excessive use of the death penalty in recent
years. It welcomed Ukraine's adoption last year of a
constitution that expressly prohibits torture and urged that a
current moratorium on the death penalty be made permanent.

NEW ESTONIAN INTERIOR MINISTER NAMED. Estonian
President Lennart Meri on 30 April named Tallinn mayor
Robert Lepikson as interior minister, following the sudden
dismissal of former minister Riivo Sinijarv. Lepikson is deputy
chairman of the ruling pro-business Coalition Party. Sinijarv
was fired on 29 April, reportedly over an investigation into the
abuse of official cars by interior ministry officials.(See RFE/RL
Newsline, 30 April).

LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT TO DISCUSS PRIVATIZATION
WITH OPPOSITION. The Lithuanian government on 30 April
expressed its willingness to discuss privatization of strategic
enterprises with the opposition, according to a statement
quoted by the Baltic News Service. The government also said it
had no intention of privatizing the country's only nuclear
power plant, Ignalina, the Lietuvos Dujos gas company or
Lietuvos Energija thermal and electrical power company. The
government termed as "groundless" allegations that it planned
to privatize the Butinges Nafta oil terminal which is under
construction.

ULMANIS URGES CLOSER POLISH-LATVIAN
COOPERATION. Speaking to reporters in Gdansk on April 30
at the end of a three-day state visit to Poland, Latvian
President Guntis Ulmanis said Poland and Latvia should
cooperate closely in their efforts to integrate with the West.
Ulmanis said there was no animosity between the two
countries and this was an excellent basis for reciprocal
contacts. In his talks with Polish politicians, Ulmanis sought
to win support for Latvia's efforts to join the EU and NATO.

POLISH PRIME MINISTER IN WASHINGTON. Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz says he is "sure" his country will be asked to join
NATO in the first wave of new members. Cimoszewicz, on an
official visit to the U.S., met yesterday in Washington with U.S.
Vice President Al Gore. Cimoszewicz told journalists afterward
that negotiations on Poland's membership in NATO will be
completed in the coming months and that Warsaw should
become a full member in two years. Cimoszewicz also said that
Gore told him NATO will make "no new concessions" to Russia
on the alliance's eastward expansion.

CZECH BANK OFFICIALS ARRESTED. A Prague district
court on 30 April formally arrested the top two managers of
the Czech Republic's third largest bank, Investment and Postal
Bank (IPB), Czech media reported. The bank, which is nearly
one third state-owned, is due to be privatized. Police detained
IPB general director Jiri Tesar and his deputy Libor Prochazka
on 29 April. The court justified the arrests, saying the danger
exists that the defendants could influence witnesses. Tesar
and Prochazka are accused of embezzlement and abuse of
commercial information.

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN SLOVAKIA. Klaus Kinkel
told reporters in Bratislava yesterday that Slovakia must first
fulfill all economic and political criteria if it wants to be
considered for membership in NATO and the EU. Kinkel held
talks with Slovak Foreign Minister Pavol Hamzik, and later
said that Germany feels responsible for Central and Eastern
Europe. But he said the conditions for Slovakia's membership
are, in his words, "the fulfillment of all criteria, both economic
and those concerning the development of democracy." Hamzik
repeated Slovakia's desire to be among the first countries
invited by NATO to join the alliance at its summit in Madrid in
July.

HUNGARIAN POLICE SAY EXTORTION GANG ARRESTED.
The chief of Hungary's National Police, Laszlo Forgach, said on
30 April that the recent arrest of 13 suspected extortionists
this week could bring an end to a wave of bombings in
Budapest. Forgach said the arrested men also are believed to
have been part of an illegal fuel sales ring. Another National
Police official, Colonel Istvan Miko, said two dozen bombings
in Budapest since September were an attempt to divert
attention from the group's evasion of fuel taxes and excise
duties. Miko said the unpaid taxes amount to billions of
forints.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIA'S FINO WANTS TOUGHER MANDATE FOR
FOREIGN TROOPS. Prime Minister Bashkim Fino said in
Tirana yesterday that he has asked Franz Vranitzky, the
OSCE's special envoy, to extend Operation Alba's mandate to
include guarding borders and ammunition dumps. Fino
argues that the country's military cannot do it on its own. His
request comes in response to an April 30 explosion in Burrel
that killed 27 people as they were looting an underground
ammunition depot for empty shell casings. Defense Minister
Shakir Vukaj has since fired two regional commanders
because of the incident. The army's inability to control the
borders has provided an incentive to looters, who then
smuggle scrap metal and other booty abroad.

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT THREATENS TO RESIGN OVER
VOTING LAW. Fino also said in Tirana that his broad coalition
government will quit if there is no suitable election law in
place for the 29 June emergency ballot. Fino's Socialists and
President Sali Berisha's Democratic Party failed to agree on a
text on 30 April. The Socialists and the other parties opposing
the Democrats insist on a new law as a guarantee against the
abuses that marred last year's parliamentary vote. They also
want to introduce a system of proportional representation to
enable smaller parties to enter parliament.

SERBIAN POLICE ARREST FIVE IN KOSOVO. Police on 30
April charged five ethnic Albanians with planning terrorist
activities over the 1 May holiday, the official Tanjug news
agency reported from Belgrade. A police statement said that
the five belong to the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army
(UCK), which has killed 12 so far this year. Until a few months
ago, the UCK conducted only apparently random attacks on
Serbs. More recently, however, its killings have become more
frequent, more professional, and increasingly directed at those
ethnic Albanians whom it says collaborate with the Belgrade
government.

BILDT WANTS U.S. TROOPS REDEPLOYED TO BALKANS. .
. Carl Bildt, the international community's High
Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, said in Washington
yesterday that the U.S. should transfer some of its troops from
Germany to southeastern Europe. Bildt said that soldiers
stationed in Germany are "deployed in order to counter a
Soviet threat that is no longer there." He added that the real
threat to security in Europe today lies in the Balkans. The
former Swedish prime minister also called "somewhat naive"
U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen's claim that the
civilian provisions of the Dayton agreement have not been
implemented as well as the military ones.

...AND LEAVES DOOR OPEN TO TALKS WITH KARADZIC.
On 30 April, Bildt told the U.N. Security Council that it might
be necessary to have "business contacts" with indicted war
criminal Radovan Karadzic. Bildt called him "a force of evil and
intrigue," but added that Karadzic is "an elected representative
of Bosnia-Herzegovina." According to the Dayton agreement,
signatories are obliged to hand over all indicted war criminals
to the Hague-based tribunal. Under a deal reached between
the international community and the Bosnian Serbs last year,
Karadzic is supposed to leave public life completely.

SERBS STONE RETURNING REFUGEES IN BRCKO. Bosnian
Serb crowds yesterday attacked two buses carrying Muslim
refugees on a visit to their homes in the strategic northern
town of Brcko. The Social Democratic Party organized the trip,
during which party leader Zlatko Lagumdzija was among those
wounded. Serb youths also stoned a bus bringing in U.S.
troops from Hungary. Earlier that day, Brcko's exiled Muslim
mayor, Munib Jusufovic, resigned to protest what he called
decisions by the international community to force returning
Muslims to take out Bosnian Serb identity papers, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Sarajevo.

ROUNDUP FROM AROUND THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.
Also in the Bosnian capital, Bildt's office announced yesterday
that the international Bosnian aid donors' conference has
been cancelled because the Muslims, Croats, and Serbs
cannot agree on basic economic legislation for the republic.
Still in Sarajevo, the OSCE said that voters crossing the inter-
entity border to vote in September's local elections must go
directly to their designated polling place and not try to visit
their former homes. In Croatia's Karlovac, vandals desecrated
Jewish graves. City officials and police have launched an
investigation, Novi List writes this morning. In Zagreb, the
authorities have assigned an additional frequency to
independent Radio 101, one of Croatia's few independent
broadcasters. And in Belgrade, several thousand people
turned out to demonstrate against President Slobodan
Milosevic and poor living conditions, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Serbian capital.

ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR REJECTS
ACCUSATIONS. In his last speech as director of the Romanian
Intelligence Service (SRI), Virgil Magureanu on April 30
rejected accusations that he or other SRI members had been
serving interests of the KGB or other foreign powers, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. Magureanu also rejected
accusations that the report he presented to parliament on his
activities had an anti-Western bias. Speaking later to
reporters, Magureanu confirmed that former President Ion
Iliescu had offered him a place on the list of the Party of Social
Democracy in Romania before the 1996 elections. Magureanu
said he intends to enter political life and that his views are
"centrist." He promised never to use information gathered
during his tenure for political purposes.

ROMANIA APOLOGIZES TO GERMANY. Romania has
apologized to Germany for the first time for having deported
ethnic German inhabitants to the Soviet Union after the
Second World War. Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin
expressed what he termed "deep regret, together with
apologies for what happened," during German Foreign
Minister Klaus Kinkel's visit to Romania. Kinkel told the
Romanian parliament on 30 April that Bucharest's bid to join
NATO is being examined with great attention, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. He said the results of NATO's July
summit in Madrid are still unforeseeable, and that the alliance
will remain open for partners who are not invited to join in
July. He told the legislators that the EU's criteria will be "equal
and transparent" for all candidate countries. He also pledged
that the new Europe would be without "lines of separation or
marginalization."

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT VISITS FRANCE. Petar Stoyanov
arrived in France yesterday on an official three-day visit. His
delegation includes a group of Bulgarian businessmen and
caretaker Economy Minister Alexander Bozhkov, who is
expected to keep his post in a new government named later
this month. Stoyanov's schedule includes talks with French
President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Alain Juppe.
RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reports that Stoyanov will seek
support for Sofia's bid to join NATO. Bulgaria is not expected
to be among the first candidates invited. Meanwhile, today
Bulgaria's Interim Prime Minister Stefan Sofianski and U.S.
presidential adviser Richard Shifter held talks in Sofia. The
talks focused on regional cooperation.

BULGARIAN PATRIARCH FILES COMPLAINT WITH
EUROPEAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION. The head of the
Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Maxim, has filed a
complaint with the European Human Rights Commission in
Strasbourg against the Bulgarian Supreme Court and the
Prosecutor General, a spokesman for the Holy Synod told an
RFE/RL correspondent on 1 May. If the commission accepts
the complaint, Patriach Maxim may take the case to the
European Court. Patriarch Maxim is protesting a July ruling
of the Bulgarian Supreme Court, which indirectly upheld an
earlier decision of the then Union of Democratic Forces (UDF)
government, pronouncing Maxim's Holy Synod illegitimate and
supporting an alternative Synod, led by another Patriarch,
Pimen. Maxim's Synod was pronounced illegitimate because
most of its members were not elected, but appointed by the
former Communist regime.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS SOFIA. Romania's President
Emil Constantinescu met with Stoyanov in Sofia on 30 April.
RFE/RL's Sofia bureau quoted Stoyanov's press service as
saying that the presidents were coordinating their positions on
efforts to join NATO. Earlier this month, Constantinescu said
Romania and Bulgaria "are not competitors, but partners" on
the road to both the EU and NATO. The two presidents also
discussed bilateral relations, including a joint project for
building at least one new bridge across the Danube River
border.

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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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