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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 57, Part II, 20 June1997


Vol. 1, No. 57, Part II, 20 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/

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER "TEMPORARILY" DISMISSED

* GREEK PEACEKEEPERS KILL ALBANIAN

* MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS COUNTRY IN "SERIOUS CRISIS"

End Note
ELECTION CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF IN POLAND

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER "TEMPORARILY" DISMISSED. The Office of Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma announced on 19 June that Kuchma has decided to
temporarily remove Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko and replace him with First
Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Dudinets. Presidential spokesmen told journalists
in Kyiv that Lazarenko was being removed from his post for the duration of an
unspecified illness. Lazarenko has made no comment. Observers cast doubt on
Lazarenko's alleged health problems. Rumors of his dismissal have been
circulating in Kyiv for weeks amid allegations of high-level government
corruption. Under Ukraine's constitution, Lazarenko's dismissal would mean the
resignation of the cabinet.

SENIOR IMF OFFICIAL IN KYIV. Kuchma met with IMF Deputy Director Stanley
Fischer on 19 June to discuss a new loan to Ukraine, UNIAN reported. A final
decision on the loan has been delayed since late 1996 because Ukraine has
failed to meet a number of fundamental IMF conditions, including approval of
the 1997 State Budget within certain guidelines, reform of the pension system,
and liberalization of trade. Media reports suggest that Fischer is to hand
over to Kuchma a letter from IMF Executive Director Michel Camdessus
expressing concern about Ukraine's continued failure to those conditions. An
IMF special mission is to arrive in Ukraine at the end of June. In other news,
Defense Minister Olexander Kuzmuk and his visiting Polish counterpart,
Stanislaw Dobrzanski, praised improved bilateral military ties. They said at a
19 June press conference in Kyiv that close cooperation between their
militaries was important for European security.

NEW CRIMEAN CABINET APPROVED. The parliament of Ukraine's autonomous region of
Crimea on 19 June approved the cabinet of newly appointed Premier Anatoliy
Franchuk, RFE/RL's Kyiv office reported. There are five holdovers from the
previous government of Arkadiy Demydenko and a larger number of members of the
Russia faction, which was the driving force behind Demydenko's ouster. No
members of Demydenko's newly formed Crimea Our Home faction are included in
the new cabinet. Franchuk, a close ally of President Kuchma, was Crimean
premier in 1994-1995. He has pledged rapid and comprehensive economic
liberalization.

SOROS TO FIGHT BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES. The Minsk office of U.S. philanthropist
George Soros's Open Society Institute will appeal against a huge fine imposed
by the Belarusian authorities, Soros told Ekho Moskvy on 19 June. Tax
officials in Belarus imposed the S2.9 million fine in May, accusing Soros's
foundation of violating its tax-exempt status by becoming involved in
politics. The Belarusian government expelled the foundation's director in
March. Soros said he does not intend to close the Minsk office, even though
the foundation's bank accounts there have been frozen. He accused the
Belarusian authorities of harassment and of trying to squelch democracy.

RECORD-LONG PARLIAMENTARY SESSION IN ESTONIA OVER CUSTOMS TARIFFS BILL.
Opposition deputies used procedural tactics on 18-19 June to obstruct the
second reading of the controversial bill on customs tariffs, ETA and BNS
reported. In a session that lasted almost 28 hours--the longest in post-war
Estonia--deputies requested 10-minute breaks after discussion of each
amendment and repeatedly introduced proposals on other bills scheduled for
discussion before the summer recess began on 20 June. A compromise was finally
reached whereby discussion of the bill was postponed until the fall and the
parliament passed a supplementary budget law crucial to the government's
ability to continue to function. The opposition argues that imposing tariffs
will force prices to rise and that if they nonetheless are introduced, the
parliament, rather than the government, should draw up a tariffs bill. Under
an EU association agreement, Estonia will forfeit its right to introduce the
tariffs if the necessary legislation is not passed by year's end.

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN CONCERNED ABOUT POSSIBLE "FINLANDIZATION" OF
BALTICS. Vytautas Landsbergis has expressed concern that in the post-Boris
Yeltsin era, Russia might try to "Finlandize" the Baltic States, AFP reported.
In a speech at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International
Studies, Landsbergis said Lithuania wants to resist any such tendency. He
argued for the Baltic countries to be allowed to join NATO, warning there
could be "mutiny after Yeltsin" and citing the "unpredictability of Russia."

CZECH PRESIDENT ON POSSIBILITY OF NEW GOVERNMENT. Vaclav Havel told
journalists on 19 June, following a meeting with the leaders of both chambers
of the parliament, that if the present government falls, he will ask the
current government coalition to propose a candidate for the premiership. Havel
said that because the current government was directly elected, it would seem
morally right to give it a chance to form a new cabinet. He stressed that he
did not want to see the government fall. In his words, at the two chambers'
meeting he merely discussed the options and paths to be followed if the
government fell.

SLOVAK INTERIOR MINISTER SURVIVES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. Gustav Krajci on 19 June
survived a parliamentary no-confidence vote. It was the second opposition bid
in two weeks to oust Krajci, whom they accuse of sabotaging the May referendum
on NATO membership and direct presidential elections. The referendum was
declared invalid owing to low voter turnout after Krajci defied the
Constitutional Court and the Referendum Commission by refusing include the
question on presidential elections on the ballot. Also on 19 June, Culture
Ministry State Secretary Pavol Panis said Slovakia treats all minorities
equally, and will continue to support minority schools, newspapers and ethnic
TV broadcasts. Speaking at a Bratislava conference on national minorities,
Panis said the government "is interested in maintaining the diversity of
Slovakia." The meeting was co-sponsored by the government and the Council of
Europe.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

GREEK PEACEKEEPERS KILL ALBANIAN. Greek troops killed an armed Albanian drug
dealer in Elbasan on 18 June. It was the first time that foreign troops
fatally wounded a local civilian. A total of about 1,600 Albanians have died
in violent incidents since the country slid into anarchy early this year. In
Gjirokaster, Romanian soldiers rescued 11 foreign election monitors from a
restaurant where they were trapped by rival gangs. It was the first serious
incident involving OSCE workers. Also on 18 June, armed workers of an oil
refinery in Mallakaster barred director Afrim Jupi from entering the company
premises. They also blocked fuel-trucks from transporting fuel away, even
though the drivers had an order from Jupi. The employees argued that Jupi
failed to explain the whereabouts of 5,000 tons of oil that were previously
transported away but are now unaccounted for, "Republika" reported.

ALBANIAN MULTI-PARTY ROUND-TABLE HAMSTRUNG. Prime Minister Bashkim Fino walked
out of a meeting of the multi-party round-table on 19 June in Tirana after a
row over some aspects of the upcoming elections. The Republican Party demanded
that Fino ensure freedom of movement during the campaign and provide better
security at rallies. Some round-table participants accused the Central
Election Commission of numerous mistakes and irregularities, "Koha Jone"
reports. The CEC was appointed in late May and lacks even the most basic
equipment. It has missed various deadlines in the runup to the election, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tirana. Its biggest shortcoming is its
failure to resolve disputes over proportional representation and over the
closing time of polling stations.

ALBANIAN ELECTION DATE STILL IN DOUBT. OSCE Election Observation Coordinator
Anthony Welch said on 19 June that only 67 of 115 candidates' lists have
arrived at the OSCE and that the elections may have to be postponed, "Koha
Jone" reported on 20 June. No ballot papers can be printed before the lists
are complete, and there are only nine days left for both printing and
distribution. Welch, however, said that the election preparations are going
ahead, even though the security situation also remains uncertain. In
Gjirokaster, the Democrats held their first rally in the southern rebel
stronghold. Only local candidates took part, and there were no incidents. The
Democrats and President Sali Berisha have their power base in the north and
have been threatened by southern rebels. Meanwhile in New York, the Security
Council voted to extend the mandate of the Italian-led Operation Alba by 45
days into mid-August.

MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS COUNTRY IN "SERIOUS CRISIS." Momir Bulatovic
addressed the parliament in Podgorica on 19 June in the latest stage of the
ongoing crisis gripping both the government and the ruling Democratic
Socialist Party. Bulatovic denied that the tensions between him and Prime
Minister Milo Djukanovic are the cause of the difficulties, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. He said that the feud is
rather an outgrowth of basic political differences between the two men.
Bulatovic accused the government of favoring the south at the expense of the
north. He also charged that the security services behave as a law unto
themselves and are engaged in massive corruption.

SERBIAN ROUNDUP. Federal Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic met in
Rome on 19 June with his Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini, for a briefing on
the EU's recent Amsterdam summit. Dini told Milutinovic that the EU expects
Yugoslavia to live up to its obligations under the Dayton agreement and to
respect the recommendations on democratization made last year by Spain's
former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales. In Novi Sad, Dusan Mijic, the owner of
the independent daily "Nasa Borba," says that his paper will not pay the
massive fines for alleged back taxes that the government is trying to impose.
In Belgrade, war veterans resumed their hunger strike to demand a
clarification of their status and benefits after talks with the authorities
broke down. And federal President Zoran Lilic has formally endorsed Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic to succeed him in the federal job.

KOSOVO OFFICIALS SHOT AT. Unidentified men fired an automatic weapon at a car
carrying persons from the Serbian Interior Ministry on the road between
Pristina and Podujevo on 19 June. No one was injured or claimed responsibility
for the incident. In Belgrade, Refugee Minister Bratislava Morina refused to
meet with women from a delegation of Serbs from Istok in Kosovo. The Serbs,
whom the authorities resettled in the mainly Albanian-populated province, are
demonstrating in central Belgrade for housing and other benefits they say were
originally promised to them (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 1997).

BOSNIAN SERB ARMOR SEIZED. Czech SFOR soldiers found and confiscated a tank,
two armored personnel carriers, and two artillery pieces that the Bosnian
Serbs were holding in contravention of the Dayton agreement. The incident took
place on 19 June near Omarska, which was the site of one of the most notorious
concentration camps in the Bosnian war. And in Sarajevo, an RFE/RL
correspondent reports that two frequently-postponed meetings have been put off
again. One is a gathering of international aid donors to Bosnia, which is now
slated for mid-July. The other is a meeting of Croatian President Franjo
Tudjman and his Bosnian counterpart Alija Izetbegovic, which could take place
in late June at the earliest if a dispute over Mostar is solved.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, GOVERNMENT DISCUSS MINERS' STRIKE. President Emil
Constantinescu on 19 June met with members of the coalition government and
called on them to make public "in the shortest possible time" the government's
program for restructuring the mining industries and the "social
rehabilitation" of the Jiu valley region. Constantinescu is due to meet with
representatives of the largest trade unions and of the opposition
parliamentary parties on 20 June, Radio Bucharest reports. Meanwhile, the
government has announced it will send a delegation to Hunedoara for
negotiations with the striking miners. The miners yesterday gave a 24-hour
ultimatum to the executive to restart negotiations. Most of the mining
industries unions have expressed solidarity with the strikers. In Bucharest,
some 7,000 workers in the lumber industry protested against the government's
economic policies.

UPDATE ON ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER'S U.S. VISIT. Victor Ciorbea on 19 June had
an "unscheduled meeting" with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright,
Radio Bucharest reported. He also met with World Bank president James
Wolfensohn and discussed the bank's possible increased support for Romania's
social protection programs and the development of the Jiu valley. Meanwhile,
State Department spokesman John Dinger said that at the first meeting with
Ciorbea on 18 June, Albright had emphasized the importance to the U.S .of its
relations with Romania and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott had
expressed "full support" for Romania's goal of integration into Euro-Atlantic
structures. Dinger stressed, however, that this did not mean that the U.S. has
already decided to back Romania in a second round of NATO expansion.

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION RIFT DEEPENS. Mugurel Vintila and Marian Enache, members
of the reformist group in the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, resigned
from the party on the eve of its annual congress, scheduled for 21-22 June.
They say Chairman Ion Iliescu is oblivious to calls for the restructuring of
the party. In a letter to the former Romanian president on 19 June, the leader
of the group, Teodor Melescanu, said he will not run for any position in the
party leadership at the congress. Melescanu says he made the decision after
learning that the incumbent leadership has already fixed the results of the
contest for the leading party positions. Another reason for the decision, he
said, is to refute the claim that the struggle for reforming the party is in
fact only a struggle for power, as Iliescu had claimed.

MOLDOVA TO POSTPONE LANGUAGE TEST? The Russian-language daily "Nezavisimaya
Moldova" reported on 19 June that under a decree drafted by the Moldovan
government, the requirement for public office-holders to pass a
Romanian-language test would not go into effect until 2005. The decision to
introduce such a test was adopted in 1989, when Moldova was still part of the
former Soviet Union. Its implementation was postponed until 1 January 1997 by
a decision of the parliament and of the former government headed by Andrei
Sangheli, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported.

MOLDOVAN RIGHT-WING PARTIES SET UP ALLIANCE. The Party of Revival and Accord
of Moldova and the Popular Christian Democratic Front on 19 June announced
they have set up an alliance of right-wing political parties. The leaders of
the two formations, former President Mircea Snegur and Iurie Rosca, said in a
joint declaration, that the alliance will be called the Democratic Convention
of Moldova and will be open to other formations with a similar political
outlook, Radio Bucharest reported.

MOLDOVAN GAGAUZ AUTONOMY CRITICIZED BY TIRASPOL. The authorities in Moldova's
Gagauz autonomous region are "enraged" by the showing in Tiraspol movie
theaters of a documentary criticizing the situation in the region, BASA-Press
reported on 19 June. They say the documentary, "The Gagauz Deadlock," was
produced on the order of "destructive political forces in Tiraspol" and aims
at discrediting autonomy as a form of government at a time when Tiraspol and
Chisinau are about to resume talks on a final status for the breakaway region.
Chisinau offers Tiraspol an autonomous status similar to that enjoyed by the
Gagauz region. The Gagauz authorities say the documentary "distorts the real
situation in the region" and is "tendentious." Earlier, Gagauz region governor
Georgii Tabunshchik complained that "certain forces in Transdniester are
trying to destabilize the situation" in the autonomous region.

BULGARIA TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH MUSLIM WORLD. During a three-day visit to
Kuwait that ended on 18 June, Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov secured
support for normalizing Sofia's strained relations with Muslim and Arab
countries, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 19 June. Stoyanov will ask
Turkey to withdraw complaints filed with the Organization of Islamic
Conference (OIC) in the 1980s, during communist leader Todor Zhivkov's
anti-Turkish minority campaign. In return, Stoyanov has agreed to allow OIC
observers to monitor the conditions of Muslims and ethnic Turks in Bulgaria.
On his return to Sofia, he said Bulgaria and Kuwait agreed to start regular
consultation at Foreign Ministry expert level. Agreements were signed to
encourage mutual investments and to avoid double taxation. In addition, a
state-owned Kuwaiti company has agreed to loan $40 million to help develop
Sofia international airport.

BULGARIAN MILITARY REFORM. Col. Gen. Miho Mihov, the new army chief of staff,
told reporters on 19 June that Bulgaria will replace its conscript army with a
professional one and reduce its personnel by 10 %. Mihov said the army will
start offering three-year contracts for professional soldiers beginning 1
September. For the time being, the army will remain a mix of professional
soldiers and conscripts serving for 12 to 18 months, BTA reported.

BULGARIAN BUSINESS EXECUTIVE MISSING. The Ministry of Interior on 19 June said
a search is under way for Penko Dimitrov, the deputy executive director of the
country's state gas monopoly company Bulgargas, Reuters reported. The
statement said Dimitrov had not been seen since earlier in the day, when
guards at the company's headquarters in Sofia. informed him they had seen a
strange car parked nearby. They had offered to accompany him, but he declined
their offer. Recently, the ministry had announced that special steps had been
taken to protect Bulgargas executive director Vassil Filipov after he had
received threats.

END NOTE

ELECTION CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF IN POLAND

by Jan de Weydenthal

        Speaking on nationwide television on 18 June, Polish President Aleksande
 r
Kwasniewski announced that parliamentary elections will take place on 21
September. He also said he had signed a law requiring all candidates for
elective public office and senior positions in the government, judiciary, or
state-run media to reveal whether they worked for or cooperated with
intelligence services during communist era.
        Kwasniewski said the elections will provide the public with an opportuni
 ty to
express their view on Poland's efforts to join European institutions. "The
next elections must bring a clear answer," Kwasniewski said, "not only about
what each politician [does] but also about what each of us expects from Europe
[as well as] about what and when one wants to give to this Europe."
        Kwasniewski's speech marked the formal opening of the election campaign,
although Poland's diverse political groups had already started widespread
preparations for the contest.
        Most public opinion polls have consistently found that the former
Communists--currently reorganized into the Social-Democratic Party, which is a
senior partner in the coalition government--are running neck-and-neck with a
host of right-wing groups clustered around the Solidarity labor union. Each
side has consistently attracted about 25% of support from nationwide samples.
They are followed by the centrist Freedom Union, the leftist Labor Union, and
the Peasant Party, which is a junior member of the current coalition
government. Support for each of those groups hovers around 10%.
        The ruling Social Democrats launched their campaign on 16 June with a pr
 ess
conference featuring Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, who set the tone
by claiming credit for Poland's economic successes during the last four years.
"Changes took place for the better in all spheres of social life," Cimoszewicz
said, adding that "one has to be blind not to see them." The party is well
organized and disciplined. It is backed by numerous labor and youth groups and
enjoys a relatively strong standing in the country's business community. Its
slogan -- "We have kept our word" -- is designed to focus on specific issues,
such as economic progress, unemployment, and inflation, that demonstrate
success and to divert attention from the more general, still-unresolved
problems of historical and moral justice.
        It is precisely those general problems that provide the foundation for t
 he
right-wing political campaign. That campaign uses patriotic slogans and
religious appeals, but its main thrust is removing all vestiges of communist
past. In the opinion of many right-wing politicians and activists, involvement
in communist institutions and operations before 1989 disqualifies the Social
Democrats and their supporters from politics.
        The Solidarity-led Electoral Action (AWS) consists of some 45 separate g
 roups
that have very different political programs and policy interests. It has been
held together until now by the simple realization that none would be able to
enter parliament and/or participate in government on its own.
        But signs of potential internal conflict within AWS have recently emerge
 d,
with several groups vocally complaining about the centrally drafted lists of
candidates. Some have complained that Solidarity is taking a disproportionate
share of positions on the ballots. The union has denied this but says that
since it is the strongest component of the AWS, it is entitled to a major
share.
        Several prominent centrist politicians, such as the popular former forei
 gn
and finance minister Andrzej Olechowski, have recently announced their
departure from the AWS, openly disagreeing about its program and the style of
its political campaign. Olechowski said described the umbrella organization as
excessively populist and nationalistic.
        Others complain about the AWS's close identification with, and uncritica
 l
support for, the Catholic Church. The AWS has championed the ban on abortion,
for example, and its leader, Marian Krzaklewski, recently declared his support
for a complete and unconditional ban on abortions.
        The election campaign is certain to intensify in the coming weeks. But t
 here
are already serious concerns that it may focus too much on infighting between
those considered to have lingering links to the communist regime and those
advocating a final break with the past. There are also fears that this type of
campaign may merely exacerbate Poland's current social and economic problems
by deepening, rather than narrowing, the long-existing cleavages.
        Kwasniewski's reminder about the need to concentrate on political choice
 s for
Poland's future appears intended to put stress on other, more pertinent
issues. But it is far from certain whether this advice will be heeded by the
public, not to mention the politicians.




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