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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 46, Part II, 5 June1997


Vol. 1, No. 46, Part II, 5 June1997

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

* PLANS TO SELL UKRAINIAN BOMBERS TO RUSSIA SUSPENDED


* BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS DECREE ON TREATY WITH RUSSIA


* ATTACK ON BERISHA PUTS ALBANIAN VOTE IN DOUBT


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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

PLANS TO SELL UKRAINIAN BOMBERS TO RUSSIA SUSPENDED. Ukrainian Defense
Minister Alexander Kuzmuk told ITAR-TASS on 4 June that Ukraine has decided to
keep several bomber aircraft that it was intending to sell to Russia. Kuzmuk
said that Ukraine had planned to sell Russia 25 Tupolev Tu-160 and Tu-95MS
bombers as agreed upon two years ago, but he added that the two countries have
been unable to settle on a price for the aircraft. Russian Deputy Prime
Minister Valerii Serov said Russia might decide against purchasing the planes
because it has no funds for repairs. Kuzmuk neither confirmed nor denied that
Russia has backed out of the sale. He said only that "the question has been
suspended" and "it is unclear when it will be settled."

CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT PROTESTS SEA MANEUVERS, REPLACES PREMIER. The Crimean
parliament on 4 June protested against upcoming Sea Breeze naval exercises in
the Black Sea, dpa reported. It accused the Ukrainian government of allowing
Crimea to become a "test bed" for NATO plans. Russia has also criticized the
NATO-backed exercises, in which Ukrainian forces will participate along with
troops from the U.S., Bulgaria, and Romania. Also on 4 June, the parliament
voted to name Anatoli Franchuk as prime minister of the autonomous province.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma approved the dismissal of Premier Arkady
Demidenko and his replacement by Franchuk the previous day.

UKRAINIAN MINERS ON STRIKE. Trade union spokesman Yuri Berdnik told
journalists in Kyiv on 4 June that more than 2,000 Ukrainian miners are
striking over wage delays and working conditions. The miners' strike began on
30 May and has paralyzed 19 mines in the eastern part of the country.
According to Berdnik, the striking miners are owed more than $2 million in
back pay. The Ukrainian government reportedly owes a total of $819 million to
some 600,000 miners.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS DECREE ON TREATY WITH RUSSIA. Alyaksandr Lukashenka
has signed a decree ordering his government to implement the recently signed
union charter with Russia, Belapan reported on 4 June. The decree calls, among
other things, for drafting a joint defense policy for Russia and Belarus.
Meanwhile, Russian President Boris Yeltsin said at a meeting with regional
leaders in Moscow on 4 June that Russia and Belarus may have a common currency
in the future as a result of the union charter.

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES PROGRAM. The government has approved a program
for 1997-1998 that gives priority to regional development and foresees annual
economic growth at 4-5% and annual inflation at 10-12%, ETA reported on 4
June. The main foreign-policy goals are admission to the EU, cooperation with
NATO within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program, and continued
participation in peacekeeping operations. Also on 4 June, the government
approved the principles of a so-called three-pillar pension system based on
guaranteed state pensions and mandatory and voluntary payments by individuals.
The voluntary "pillar" is to be implemented in 1998 and the mandatory one
after 2000. A government official noted that a new system was needed because
of the "increasing median age" of the population, according to ETA.

NEW LATVIAN DEFENSE MINISTER CONFIRMED. The parliament has confirmed Talavs
Jundzis as defense minister, BNS reported on 4 June. Jundzis was Latvia's
first defense minister following the country's restoration of independence in
1991. He replaces Andrejs Krastins, who resigned at the beginning of May
following accusations of having concluded fuel purchase deals at prices
disadvantageous to the state (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 May 1997). Meanwhile,
President Guntis Ulmanis has sent a letter to Prime Minister Andris Skele
urging that the naturalization process be simplified. He called for reducing
the naturalization fee from 30 lats ($60) to 3 lats, exempting students from
paying the fee, and abolishing the six-month limit for people to reapply if
they fail the naturalization exam, Reuters and BNS reported.

LITHUANIAN COMMISSIONER FOR MILITARY TRANSIT DISMISSED. The government has
dismissed Lt.-Col. Algirdas Jurkevicius as commissioner for military transit,
BNS reported on 4 June. The decision was taken following reports that
Jurkevicius abused his powers by signing transit licenses for Russian military
vehicles to cross Lithuania. Only Russian military trains are allowed to
transit the country. Jurkevicius was appointed by the government in June 1995.

POPE PRAISES SHARED HERITAGE OF POLES AND JEWS. Speaking on 4 June at a
sanctuary in Kalisz dedicated to Polish clergy who were sent to the Nazi death
camp at Dachau, in Germany, Pope John Paul paid tribute to the millions of
Jews who died in World War II. The pope, who is on an 11-day visit to Poland,
reminded his audience of what he called the "common heritage" of Jews and
Poles in Poland. Earlier the same day, he addressed some 100,000 people at an
open air mass in Kalisz, saying a nation that allows abortion has no future
and deserves to be called a "barbarian civilization." Abortion is expected to
be a significant issue in the parliamentary elections in September. The
parliament, dominated by post-communists, passed a law last October easing
restrictions on abortions. But the Constitutional Court has ruled against
parts of the law and called on the parliament to review the legislation. The
Democratic Left Party has said it may propose a referendum on abortion.

CZECH GOVERNMENT TO SEEK VOTE OF CONFIDENCE. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus
told journalists in Prague on 4 June that the government will seek a vote of
confidence within the next week. The opposition Social Democrats said recently
that they will seek a vote of no-confidence in Klaus's cabinet. Earlier the
same day, Josef Lux--chairman of the Christian Democratic Union, a ruling
coalition partner--was quoted in Lidove Noviny as saying there is growing
tension in the Czech Republic over perceived government mismanagement of the
economy and that Klaus's resignation would solve the problem. Lux later said
he was misquoted, but the divides within the three-party coalition are
deepening. President Vaclav Havel said on 4 June he is alarmed by the latest
political developments.

NEW SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER NAMED. President Michal Kovac on 4 June named
Zdenka Kramplova as foreign minister, Slovak media reported. Presidential
spokesman Vladimir Stefko said Kramplova, the first woman to hold that
position, was a senior civil servant in the Foreign Ministry and headed the
government office until January. Kramplova will be officially appointed by
Kovac on 11 June. She replaces Pavol Hamzik who resigned at the end of last
month citing the domestic political situation and the failed referendum on
NATO membership and direct presidential elections. Meanwhile, parliamentary
chairman Ivan Gasparovic arrived in Washington on 4 June for two days of talks
with U.S. congressmen that will focus on NATO enlargement, RFE/RL's Washington
correspondent reported.

MOLDOVAN PRIME MINISTER IN HUNGARY. Seven bilateral agreements were signed on
3 June during Moldovan Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc's first visit to Budapest,
Hungarian media reported. The sides signed an intergovernmental agreement on
extradition and cooperation in combating organized crime, terrorism, and drug
trafficking. Other agreements cover industry, agriculture, transportation,
culture, and science. Ciubuc and his Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn, said
they want to improve economic cooperation and increase last year's $24.5
million turnover in bilateral trade. Ciubuc pledged to help promote Hungarian
goods in other CIS markets.

HUNGARIAN SMALLHOLDERS REMEMBER TRIANON. The opposition Independent
Smallholders staged a rally in Budapest on 4 June commemorating the
anniversary of the 1920 Trianon treaty, in which Hungary lost two-thirds of
its territory, Hungarian media reported. Smallholders Deputy Chairman Zsolt
Lanyi said it was a mistake of the government to include the inviolability of
state borders in recent basic treaties Hungary has concluded with its
neighbors. He called upon citizens to vote in the 1998 elections for a
government that would be "Hungarian and Christian." At a separate rally in
Buda Castle, Hungarian Justice and Life Party leader Istvan Csurka said
Hungary does not have problems with its neighboring states but rather with its
own "satellite elites, [who are] the traitors of the homeland."


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ATTACK ON BERISHA PUTS ALBANIAN VOTE IN DOUBT. All political parties have
condemned an apparent assassination attempt on President Sali Berisha on 4
June inear Durres. Twenty-five-year-old Ilir Ceta, whom the president's office
called "an extremist,." has been identified as the attempted assassin. It is
unclear whether Ceta managed to throw a grenade that did not go off or whether
a presidential bodyguard grabbed the explosive before Ceta could toss it. The
Interior Ministry has launched an investigation, and Prime Minister Bashkim
Fino has announced additional security measures for candidates in the upcoming
parliamentary elections. Berisha said it was a terrorist act aimed at
destabilizing Albania. Meanwhile, some opposition journalists suggested that
Berisha's supporters might have staged the whole incident.

WARNING ABOUT ALBANIAN ELECTIONS. The Vienna-based International Helsinki
Federation for Human Rights issued a press release on 4 June calling for more
foreign troops to be sent to Albania. The group says additional soldiers are
necessary because of what the statement called the recent "politically
motivated bombings in Tirana" (see RFE/RL Newsline, 3 and 4 June 1997). The
statement said the authorities are using those explosions as an excuse to
justify the state of emergency, which the opposition wants lifted in order to
ensure a fair election campaign. The Helsinki group said that, in any event,
the prospects for the June vote appear "dim," given what it called "the legal
barriers to running in the elections, the lack of a free media, and the fact
that half of Albania is controlled by heavily armed gangs, some of which are
run by the Democratic Party." The statement did not mention, however, that the
armed gangs controlling much of the south oppose the Democrats.

ITALY WILL SEND MORE TROOPS TO ALBANIA. Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said in
Palermo on 4 June that his country is planning to increase its military
presence in Albania in the two weeks leading up to the elections. Its goal is
"to guarantee safety in all areas where voting takes place. After the
elections, which we want to be free, fair and honest, the military presence
will be ended swiftly," the minister said. Dini had no immediate details of
how many more soldiers would be sent or whether other countries taking part in
the force would deploy additional troops. Italy has contributed some 2,500
soldiers to Operation Alba, which began deploying in April.

DEADLOCK CONTINUES OVER EX-YUGOSLAV ASSETS. Representatives of the five
successor states to the former Yugoslavia ended three days of meetings in
Brussels on 4 June. They failed once again to agree on the division of
Yugoslavia's properties and other assets, an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from the Belgian capital. Belgrade wants to keep the bulk of the wealth and
argues that the others should get less because they voluntarily left
Yugoslavia. The others, for their part, want the assets divided on the basis
of the republics' pre-1991 payments to the federal budget, to which Slovenia
and Croatia were the principal contributors.

ARKAN SLAMS CNN DOCUMENTARY. Zeljko Raznatovic, better known as Arkan, held a
press conference in Belgrade on 4 June to criticize CNN's program "Wanted,"
which was broadcast worldwide this week. Arkan charged that the half-hour
broadcast was full of mistakes, and he threatened to sue CNN, Belgrade media
report. Arkan said: "I have been charged, tried, and sentenced by CNN. Does
CNN have a jail of its own?" The program presented alleged evidence of Arkan's
involvement in war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia and described his close links
to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. It asked rhetorically why the
Hague-based war crimes tribunal has not indicted him, even though Croatia and
Bosnia have both called for his arrest and trial. Interpol has issued an
arrest warrant against Arkan for various criminal activities predating the
Yugoslav conflict. On 5 June, CNN said it stands by its story and noted that
Arkan has refused to be interviewed by the network.

KOSOVO UPDATE. In Pristina, the trial continues of 15 ethnic Albanians on
terrorism charges. Some of the defendants admitted on 4 June to possessing
arms illegally. Also in Pristina, Parliamentary Party leader Adem Demaci
warned Kosovars against holding too many political meetings in the runup to
the shadow-state's December elections, an RFE/RL correspondent reported.
Demaci said that too much talking could undermine the unity of the ethnic
Albanians. He pledged to set up a National Council of all Kosovars should his
party win the elections. Meanwhile in Belgrade, 12 Serbian families from
eastern Kosovo staged a protest against what they said was abusive treatment
by Serbian officials in Kosovo. The families came originally from Slovenia and
elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia and resettled in Kosovo when the country
split up, the BETA news agency reported.

CROATIAN OPPOSITION WARNS OF VOTE FRAUD. Opposition parties on 4 June
announced the formation of a committee to monitor the presidential elections
later this month, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. The committee
held its first session immediately and warned that better controls are needed
to make sure there is no tampering with ballot papers. The number of papers
already printed for this year's election exceeds by some 1.5 million the total
printed in 1995, according to the committee. Meanwhile, Social Democratic
candidate Zdravko Tomac said in Zagreb that a big turnout is needed on 15 June
to deny President Franjo Tudjman an outright victory and to force him into a
runoff. In Rijeka, the Liberals' Vlado Gotovac charged the governing Croatian
Democratic Community with turning political life into an empty ritual.

DIVISIONS WITHIN ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY. Ion Iliescu, former
president and chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, on 3 June
sharply criticized deputy Iosif Boda, who had earlier demanded the resignation
of PDSR deputy chairman Adrian Nastase, RFE/RL Bucharest's bureau reported.
Boda ran the 1996 election campaign of Iliescu, who said he intended to
apologize to the PDSR for having imposed Boda on its lists for last year's
elections. Boda promptly received a warning from the party. Iliescu
acknowledged that the party is divided into several groups that are "fighting
one another for the leadership." Deputy Chairman Teodor Melescanu, who was
proposed as a possible replacement for Iliescu last month (see RFE/RL
Newsline, 9 May 1997), defended Boda, saying that "everybody is entitled to a
personal opinion."

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES FURTHER REFORM LEGISLATION. The government on 4
June approved an ordinance for the privatization of all state-owned companies
within three months and of firms owned by local governments within half a
year. The mechanism of ordinances enables the government to implement
legislation without the parliament's prior approval, though the legislature
eventually has to approve it. The government also approved an ordinance on the
Law of Foreign Investment providing for considerable advantages for investors
from abroad, including low taxes on capital-gains repatriation. Also on 4
June, Poul Thompsen, the IMF chief negotiator for Romania, began a three-day
visit to Romania, which was described as "routine." He met with Premier Victor
Ciorbea and the ministers in charge of the economic sector.

CHISINAU, TIRASPOL EXPERTS RENEW NEGOTIATIONS. Experts representing the two
sides involved in the Transdniestrian conflict resumed negotiations in
Chisinau on 4 June, Infotag reported. The meeting was the first held since the
signing in Moscow on 8 May of the memorandum on ways to settle the Moldovan
conflict. The two sides discussed setting the agenda for future talks. Work
will now begin on the document stipulating the breakaway region's special
status. Russian, Ukrainian, and OSCE mediators who are members of the Joint
Control Commission also attended the meeting.

BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION CHIEF WANTS SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON OBSTRUCTERS. Asen
Diulgerov, the new head of the Privatization Agency, says he wants to see
heavy fines imposed on regional governors and managers of state-owned
companies who interfere with the privatization process. Diulgerov told
reporters in Sofia on 4 June that the agency has proposed fines of up to 5
million leva ($5,300) and that the proposal will soon be considered by the
parliament. International financial institutions have accused local
administrators and state managers with ties to the Bulgarian Socialist Party
of obstructing privatization. An RFE/RL Sofia correspondent said the
Socialists still control local administration in many towns because they did
well in the local elections held in 1995. Also on 4 June, the parliament
approved the pegging of the lev to the German mark.




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