Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light. - Jennie Jerome Churchill
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 34, Part II, 20 May 1997


Vol. 1, No. 34, Part II, 20 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

* UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT,
PARLIAMENT

* ANOTHER BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN FINED

* ALBANIAN POLITICAL SITUATION WORSENS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT,
PARLIAMENT. Leonid Kuchma yesterday accused the
parliament of deliberately delaying the passage of the
long-delayed 1997 budget and of stalling reforms in the
hope of "reaping the harvest" of voter discontent in next
year's elections, Interfax reported. He said lawmakers
were showing "sharpened opposition" to the president's
reforms. Kuchma also criticized Pavlo Lazarenko's
government, saying it had taken a "subservient position"
on the budget issue by offering the parliament the
opportunity to pass a budget based on an incomplete
package of tax reforms.

ANOTHER BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN FINED.
Anatoly Lebedko, a member of the Belarusian parliament
dissolved last year by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka,
has been fined by a Minsk district court in connection with
a demonstration on 15 March, Belapan reported. The court
yesterday fined Lebedko the equivalent of $190 for
participating in the unauthorized demonstration. Lebedko
told reporters he may stage a hunger strike in the court
building. The same court earlier imposed large fines on two
Supreme Soviet members, Semen Sharetsky and Valery
Shchukin, for the same offense.

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES IN FAVOR OF
PROTECTIVE TARIFFS. Deputies voted yesterday by 47
to 26 with four abstentions to reject an opposition Reform
Party proposal to kill the draft law on protective tariffs in
its first reading, ETA reported. The bill is the cornerstone
of the coalition agreement between the Coalition Party and
the Rural Union. It is also a condition for membership in the
World Trade Organization. Before the vote, the news
agency quoted Prime Minister Mart Siimann as denying
reports that he would resign if the parliament voted
against the tariffs (see RFE/RL Newsline, 19 May 1997).

ESTONIAN PREMIER CONFIRMS SOVIET-ERA KGB FILES
MISSING. Siimann has confirmed that a large number of
KGB files handed over to Estonia in 1991 have disappeared
or been destroyed because of what he called carelessness,
ETA reported. He told the parliament yesterday that of the
87,000 foreign travel files taken over in 1991, only some
49,000 remain at the Estonian State Archives. Siimann
blamed the disappearance of the files on what he called the
"sloppiness and incompetence" of the authorities that
assumed responsibility for the KGB archives. The same day,
Interior Minister Robert Lepikson told the parliament that
security police have gathered sufficient evidence to
charge some of the people responsible for deporting
Estonians to Siberia in March 1949. He said the names will
not be made public now in the interests of preliminary
investigation. More than 20,000 Estonian citizens were
deported to Siberia in 1949.

LANDSBERGIS ON RUSSIA-NATO ACCORD. Lithuanian
parliamentary speaker Vytautas Landsbergis says certain
points of the Russia-NATO Founding Act will "open the door
to a better world order and a more secure life for us all,"
BNS reported. Landsbergis, who was speaking at a news
conference yesterday in Vilnius, said it is very important
for Lithuania that Russia has committed itself to reducing
its conventional forces, since this "allows one to hope that
the army in Kaliningrad Oblast will be reduced or at least
not bolstered." Landsbergis also noted that the document
binds Russia to opposing "aggressive nationalism," which,
he said, would help strengthen confidence between Russia
and its neighbors.

LATVIA, LITHUANIA DETERMINED TO RESOLVE SEA
BORDER ISSUE. Algirdas Saudargas and his Latvian
counterpart, Valdis Birkavs, have issued a statement
confirming their political will to "achieve a final and just
solution to the issue of sea border delimitation," BNS
reported yesterday. Saudargas was in Riga yesterday for a
one-day official visit. He told a press conference that
Latvia and Lithuania do not have "territorial problems" and
that the settlement of the border issue is hampered only
by "technicalities," such as the delimitation line.
Birkavs said he is hopeful that the border issue will be
settled before the EU begins accession talks with new
members. Saudargas also met with Latvian President
Guntis Ulmanis.

WALESA ON RUSSIA-NATO ACCORD. Former President
Lech Walesa, writing in Zycie Warszawy yesterday, accused
NATO of a huge blunder in signing a deal with Russia, saying
the agreement would encourage Moscow to continue a
policy of confrontation with the West. In Walesa's opinion,
NATO should have driven home the idea that no one could
now stand up to it and that Moscow should therefore focus
on its economic development. Meanwhile, Slovenian Foreign
Minister Zoran Thaler told journalists yesterday in Warsaw
that Poland and Slovenia agree that Russia's new
partnership deal with NATO will benefit European security
and pave the wave for an eastward expansion of the
alliance. Thaler made the comments after a meeting with
Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati.

CZECH GOVERNMENT'S POPULARITY DECLINES. An
opinion poll released by the Institute for Public Opinion
Research yesterday indicates that only 35% of Czechs have
confidence in the government--a drop of three percentage
points since the last poll. Only 10% of respondents
believed the country's transformation has been successful,
while 40% thought the results of that transformation are
mixed. A full 69% of respondents said that the ministers
responsible for the country's problems should resign.
Meanwhile, Trade and Industry Minister Vladimir Dlouhy
met yesterday with President Vaclav Havel to explain his
16 May suggestion that one possible solution to current
problems is the resignation of the entire government.
Dlouhy told Havel he was probably not the right person to
make such a suggestion, Czech media report today.

REFERENDUM BALLOTS DISTRIBUTED IN SLOVAKIA.
Referendum ballots containing four questions--three on
Slovakia's NATO membership and one on direct
presidential elections--have been distributed to the
country's 79 districts, RFE/RL's Bratislava office reported
yesterday. Some 4 million ballot papers have been printed
for the 23-24 May referendum. The government has tried
to block the question on direct presidential elections,
asking the Constitutional Court to rule whether the
constitution can be changed by a referendum. The court at
first ruled the government is not entitled to make such an
appeal, but reports suggest it may decide today whether
the constitution can be changed by such a vote. Interior
Minister Ivan Krajci stressed yesterday that he is prepared
to distribute ballots with just three questions, should the
court rule the basic law cannot be changed in this way. If
ballots with only three questions cannot be distributed in
time, the fourth question would not be legally binding.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN POLITICAL SITUATION WORSENS. Socialist
Prime Minister Bashkim Fino issued a statement in Tirana
today saying he has failed to hammer out an agreement on
the 29 June elections among the 10 parties in the broad
coalition government. The statement said that although the
debate continued all yesterday, it failed "not only to bring
compromise or come near to compromise but, on the
contrary, took Albania to the edge of a deeper crisis with
unforeseeable consequences" (see RFE/RL Newsline, 19
May 1997). President Sali Berisha's spokesman said the key
issue remains proportional representation. News agencies
report from the Albanian capital that the OSCE's Franz
Vranitzky may return soon for a sixth mediation mission,
but the OSCE has not confirmed those reports.

ALBANIAN UPDATE. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel
told Fino in a telephone conversation on 18 May that it is in
Albanians' own interest to find a way out of the impasse.
Various foreign officials have repeatedly said in recent
weeks that the elections must go ahead smoothly if
Albania wants foreign help. Meanwhile in Vlora, gunmen
killed two men yesterday. Many parents kept their children
home from school, despite the presence of Italian military
vehicles along the main street. The slayings brought the
total killed across the country over the past few days to at
least 10, police spokesmen in Tirana said.

TUDJMAN'S PARTY TAKES CONTROL OF ZAGREB. Two
councilors from the Croatian Peasants' Party joined their
colleagues from the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ)
yesterday to elect the HDZ's Marina Matulovic-Dropulic as
mayor of Zagreb and Zlatko Canjuga as council president.
The vote comes in the wake of last month's elections and
ends an 18-month stalemate during which President Franjo
Tudjman vetoed several opposition candidates for mayor.
Tudjman argued he could not turn over control of the
capital to "enemies of state interests," even though the
opposition had a majority on the council. The opposition
suspected that the HDZ's real concern was that an
opposition mayor would investigate corruption among
previous HDZ administrations. Even HDZ members have
accused Matulovic-Dropulic of corruption.

CROATIA'S KUNA INTRODUCED IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
Richard Klein, the UN's chief administrator for eastern
Slavonia, announced in Vukovar yesterday that the Croatian
currency entered into circulation throughout the region as
scheduled. The federal Yugoslav dinar will continue to be
legal tender until 19 July, and Croatian citizens can turn in
up to 2,000 dinars for kunas. In the first 18 hours, some
133,500 dinars were exchanged for Croatian money
throughout the region, Vjesnik wrote today.

RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN FORMER
YUGOSLAVIA. Igor Ivanov held talks in Belgrade
yesterday with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on
the first leg of a trip that will also include Bosnia, Croatia,
and Slovenia. Ivanov told his Serbian hosts that federal
Yugoslavia's membership in international institutions must
be restored and noted that Russia is Yugoslavia's largest
trading partner, BETA wrote. He said that democratization
is Yugoslavia's "internal affair" but added that Russia is
nonetheless interested that it develop. Ivanov also met
with Serbian opposition leaders Vuk Draskovic, Vesna
Pesic, and Zoran Djindjic. Draskovic and Pesic soon leave
for Moscow, from where Djindjic and former Yugoslav Prime
Minister Milan Panic recently returned.

KARADZIC UPDATE. Bosnian Serb police stepped up
patrols around the home of former political leader and
indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic in Pale over the
weekend. AFP yesterday quoted Serb sources as saying
that the move came in response to increased Italian SFOR
patrols in the area, but SFOR stated that its movements
were routine. Meanwhile in Belgrade yesterday, the pro-
Bosnian Serb news weekly Argument wrote that Karadzic
wants to go to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague to clear
his name. The report says that he has amassed a large
collection of documents to take to the tribunal.

ROUNDUP FROM BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA. OSCE officials
in Sarajevo yesterday warned the Bosnian Serbs against
manipulating voter registration for the September local
elections. In Banja Luka, a Bosnian Serb opposition leader
said that the governing Serbian Democratic Party is using
refugee registration to win votes for itself, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from there. In Mostar, leading
Croatian representatives from around the republic
discussed transforming their "Croatian Republic of Herceg-
Bosna" into what they called a cultural organization.
Herceg-Bosna was supposed to have disappeared long ago
according to the Dayton peace treaty.

ROMANIA'S NATIONAL LIBERAL PARTY ELECTS
LEADERSHIP. At its congress in Bucharest at the weekend,
the centrist National Liberal Party--a member of the ruling
coalition--re-elected 80-year-old Mircea Ionescu-Quintus
as chairman, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Justice
Minister Valeriu Stoica, aged 44, was elected to the newly
created post of first deputy chairman. He ran unopposed
after his main rival for the position, Viorel Catarama,
withdrew from the race. Catarama, who is accused of
implication in the collapse of an investment fund and other
irregular business deals, has been the target of criticism
both within and outside the party. He was re-elected,
however, as one of the party's four deputy chairmen.

U.S. TO EXPEL NAZI CAMP GUARD TO ROMANIA. U.S.
officials said yesterday they have taken steps to expel to
Romania Nikolaus Schiffer, a former German concentration
camp guard. AFP reports that Schiffer, a Philadelphian
retiree, was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 1995, after
the Justice Department uncovered evidence that he served
as a guard at the Sachsenhausen and Hersbruck camps, in
Germany, and at Majdanek, in Poland. Schiffer, whose
parents were Romanian nationals, was "an active
participant in the persecution occurring at these camps in
that he prevented inmates from escaping," the Justice
Department said.

THREE KILLED IN ROMANIAN COAL MINE EXPLOSION.
Three miners were killed and 14 injured in an explosion at
the Dalja coal mine in the Jiu valley, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported yesterday. The blast was due to the
ignition of leaking methane gas. Prime Minister Victor
Ciorbea set up a commission to investigate the accident
and said the families of those killed and injured will
receive compensation.

MOLDOVAN DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS RUSSIAN
TROOPS IN TRANSDNIESTER. Valeriu Pasat on 18 May
visited Russian troops stationed in the Transdniester
breakaway region, BASA-press reported. He discussed with
local commanders the future of Russia's military assets
after the promised, but long-postponed departure of
Russian troops from the region. In other developments,
legislators from Chisinau and Tiraspol yesterday met in the
Moldovan capital to discuss aspects linked to the drafting
of a document on the special status of the Transdniester.
The delegations were headed by the respective
parliamentary chairmen, Dumitru Motpan and Grigori
Markutsa.

PREMIER-DESIGNATE PRESENTS CABINET TO
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT. Ivan Kostov yesterday
presented his cabinet to President Petar Stoyanov.
Parliament is to vote on the new government tomorrow, an
RFE/RL Sofia bureau correspondent reported. The proposed
new cabinet retains five ministers from the caretaker
government, including Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev and
Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev. Alexander Bozhkov
remains as deputy premier and industry minister. Nadezhda
Mihailova has been named foreign minister. Kostov also
submitted to the president his program for the next four
years. Among other things, it provides for the restoration
of confidence in Bulgaria abroad, a decisive fight against
crime and corruption, and administrative reform. Kostov
said he would not call his program "shock therapy" but
noted parts of it would be "difficult" to fulfill. Stoyanov
said that like everyone else in Bulgaria, he was "keeping
his fingers crossed" for the success of the new
government.

PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE EXERCISE ENDS IN
BULGARIA. Some 200 senior staff officers from four NATO
and four eastern European countries will end tomorrow a
four-day joint military exercise. BTA reported that the
exercise includes staff officers from the U.S., Greece, Italy,
and Turkey was well as from Albania, Macedonia, Romania,
and Bulgaria. The exercise, called Peaceful Eagle 97, is
taking place under the joint command of Bulgarian Maj.
General Petko Dragoev and U.S. Maj. General Ed Smith. The
focus of the maneuvers were peace-keeping operations.

END NOTE

A BIZARRE MEDIA CAMPAIGN IN CROATIA

by Patrick Moore

        The state-controlled media launched a campaign on 9
May to depict one of Croatia's best-known politicians as a
traitor. Stipe Mesic is accused of defaming both President
Franjo Tudjman and Croatia in his alleged testimony to the
Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia. The campaign, however, reveals more about the
regime and its fears than about Mesic or historical truth.
        According to dailies such as Vjesnik, Slobodna
Dalmacija, and Vecernji list, the 62-year-old dapper
politician from Slavonska Orahovica recently supplied the
court with 10 pages of testimony. The text, the papers say,
blames Tudjman and the top Croatian leadership for the
conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina and for the war crimes
there. Mesic allegedly charged that Tudjman met many
times with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to discuss
the partition of Bosnia. The regime dailies stress that
Mesic's testimony has shamed his country and its
leadership in a "morally scandalous" fashion.
        The charges left Mesic baffled. That same evening, he
told RFE/RL in a telephone interview that there is some
truth in the media reports but that they also omit some
key facts. First, he never was a witness in The Hague but
simply gave an interview to court representatives last
year. Second, the bulk of his testimony did not center on
Tudjman or Croatia but on Milosevic's role in the
destruction of the former Yugoslavia. Mesic was the last
president of the Yugoslav presidency and was thus in a
unique position to observe the destruction of the multi-
ethnic state in 1991.
        Third, nothing he allegedly told the court was new.
Mesic pointed out that Hrvoje Sarinic, a prominent pro-
Tudjman politician, has admitted that the two presidents
held many more private meetings after 1990 than either
side has officially admitted. And Tudjman himself has often
publicly expressed doubts about the viability of Bosnia as
a state. He once even drew a map on a napkin for a British
politician to show how Bosnia could best be partitioned.
        Mesic, in any event, has no idea who is behind what he
calls his "political lynching" in the state-run media. But he
knows it must be people very high up in the governing
Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). He charges that
those Croatian leaders who conducted Bosnian policies that
he opposed appear to be trying to shift some of the blame
or embarrassment onto him. He fears, moreover, that the
press campaign could lead to physical violence against him.
        Mesic might have added that there is yet another
strange aspect to the campaign--namely that it is aimed at
a man whose days of power and influence seem to be behind
him. When Croatia became independent in 1991, he was
already a leading member of the HDZ and was elected
speaker of the parliament. In 1994, however, he joined the
opposition and lost the post of speaker. Despite great
efforts in the meantime, he never managed to regain his
old prominence. Polls suggest that many regard him as a
man of the past.
        The question remains as to why the HDZ ever bothered
to launch the attacks. The most obvious answer is that
presidential elections will take place in June and that the
charges against Mesic are simply part of an ongoing
campaign to identify Tudjman and the HDZ with Croatian
state interests. One analyst in Zagreb told RFE/RL that the
regime may be trying to divert popular attention from
Tudjman's own failings in foreign policy and his growing
isolation from the West. The analyst added that the
articles may also reflect the leadership's fear of the
tribunal at a time when Washington and other major
capitals are putting pressure on Zagreb to cooperate with
the court and to support the unity of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
        Another question is how the text of Mesic's remarks
found its way from the tribunal into the Croatian press.
Mesic told RFE/RL that he suspects it was leaked by
someone in The Hague to embarrass Croatia. Court officials,
however, told an RFE/RL correspondent in The Hague that
the tribunal rigorously protects the identity of all those
who supply it with information. In any event, the Zagreb-
based analyst said he thinks it is heartening to note that
the court might indeed be collecting testimony on the
likes of Tudjman and Milosevic.





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