Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 58, Part II, 23 June1997


Vol. 1, No. 58, Part II, 23 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

*BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION MOVEMENT HOLDS CONGRESS


*CONFUSION SURROUNDS UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER'S DISMISSAL


*ALBANIAN PARTY LEADERS MEET IN ROME


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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION MOVEMENT HOLDS CONGRESS. The Belarusian Popular Front
(BNF) held its fifth congress in Minsk on 21-22 June. Zianon Paznyak, who fled
Belarus in 1996 and now lives in the U.S., was re-elected leader of the
movement. Lyavon Borshchevsky, who was arrested several days before the
congress for his role in opposition protests earlier this year, was re-elected
deputy leader. Borshchevsky was briefly released from custody to attend the
congress and returned to jail on 22 June to serve the remainder of his
five-day sentence. The BNF passed a declaration calling President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka a "dictator" and denouncing his pro-Russian policies. In a
videotaped address, Paznyak referred to Lukashenka's government as the
"occupation regime" and criticized the president's efforts at reunification
with Russia.

CONFUSION SURROUNDS UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER'S DISMISSAL. A spokesman for
Pavlo Lazarenko on 20 June denied reports that the prime minister will resign.
He said that Lazarenko has been diagnosed with "physical exhaustion." The
previous day, President Leonid Kuchma announced he was temporarily stripping
Lazarenko of his duties and passing them on to Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl
Durdinets (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 1997). Many observers saw that move
as permanent and predicted Lazarenko's resignation would soon follow.
Lazarenko is considered responsible for Ukraine's continuing economic troubles
and for not stopping corruption. Several parliamentary factions have called
for his resignation.

G-7 OFFERS $300 MILLION TO REBUILD CHORNOBYL SARCOPHAGUS. At the Denver summit
from 21-22 June, the Group of Seven leading industrial nations promised to
grant Ukraine $300 million to help rebuild the concrete shell around the
Chornobyl nuclear reactor, Reuters reported. A G-7 statement said the
Chornobyl reactor, scene of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986, should
be closed completely by the year 2000. The G-7 has been urging Ukraine for
years to close the station. Ukraine says it can do so only when new reactors
have been built at other plants. It wants $780 million to help build a new
sarcophagus. G-7 ministers also expressed concern about the slow pace of
economic reform in Ukraine. It urged Ukraine to step up the pace of reform and
encourage foreign investors.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEADER. Kuchma met with Igor
Smirnov on 20 June in Kyiv and discussed the deployment of Ukrainian
peace-keeping troops in the security zone of the breakaway region, ITAR-TASS
reported. They also discussed economic cooperation. Under the terms of the 8
May memorandum signed by Chisinau and Tiraspol, the Transdniester can develop
independent economic ties. Ukraine is one of the guarantors of the memorandum,
alongside Russia and the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe.

LATVIAN CORRUPTION UPDATE. Prime Minister Andris Skele on 20 June demanded the
resignation of State Health Minister Juris Vinkelis, after the Prosecutor's
Office found Vinkelis violated the anti-corruption law, BNS reported. Vinkelis
denied any wrong-doing, saying the companies in which he reportedly holds
posts have never really begun business operations. The office also announced
Deputy Prime Minister Juris Kaksitis violated the law by failing to state he
held a post in a company when filling out an income declaration. But since
that company is non-profit, the violation is not considered serious, according
to BNS. Meanwhile, the office said Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs has not
breached the law since he withdrew from all posts outside the government
before the 1 August 1996 deadline. At the request of Skele, the Prosecutor's
Office launched an investigation into all government members following reports
that many have broken the anti-corruption law.

NEW PARTY IN LATVIA. At a joint congress in Riga on 21 June, the Fatherland
and Freedom party and the Latvian National Independence Movement (LNNK) voted
to establish a new political formation, to be called Fatherland and
Freedom/LNNK, BNS reported. Fatherland and Freedom leader Maris Grinblats said
the new party's program will be based on national values, the inviolability of
the fundamental principles of the constitution, passage of a tough citizenship
law, the promotion of the repatriation of aliens, and the preservation of the
"purity of the Latvian language." The new party will have 17 parliamentary
seats and will thus be the second-largest formation in the legislature.

LITHUANIAN ROUNDUP. The Conservatives have drafted a bill aimed at preventing
state officials from making personal profit from the office they hold, BNS
reported on 20 June. First Deputy Parliamentary Chairman Andrius Kubilius told
a news conference that prevention of corruption has not received any attention
so far in Lithuania. He added that the anti-corruption law would allow the
public eye to "X-ray the corridors of the governing bodies." Also on 20 June,
two-day talks on the Russian-Lithuanian border concluded in Vilnuis, ITAR-TASS
reported. The agency quoted Rimantas Sidlaumkas, the head of the Lithuanian
delegation, as saying that "certain progress" was made. Sidlaumkas also noted
that the talks, which began several years ago, are "nearing an end."

NATO SECURITY FORUM IN PRAGUE. Czech President Vaclav Havel opened a NATO
security forum in Prague on 21 June by calling on NATO leaders to give a clear
timetable for expansion after the first wave of former communist countries are
invited to join at the alliance's Madrid summit next month, Czech TV reported.
The four-day Prague forum, is attended by top NATO officials and leaders of
countries aspiring to gain membership in the alliance. Slovenian Foreign
Minister Zoran Thaler told the forum on 22 June that his country's admission
to NATO will boost security in southeastern Europe. Both Polish President
Alexander Kwasniewski and Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova urged
NATO to remain open for those nations left out of the first wave.

EDU CONCERNED ABOUT SITUATION IN SLOVAKIA. The European Democratic Union says
it is concerned about steps taken by the Slovak government that the EDU
considers a serious breach of the rule of law and democratic principles, CTK
reported on 21 June, citing Jan Figel, deputy chairman of the opposition
Christian Democrats (KDH). Figel, who took part in a meeting of the EDU
steering committee in London, said there are no longer any doubts that
Slovakia has dropped out from the main integration stream and is heading
neither for NATO nor for the EU. The EDU brings together about 40 conservative
and Christian Democratic parties from Europe.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO MONITOR ETHNIC RIGHTS IN SLOVAKIA. Jane Dinsdale, the
deputy director of the Council of Europe's Human Rights Department, told
journalists in Bratislava on 20 June that the council will continue to watch
the situation of ethnic minorities in Slovakia and will largely focus on their
language rights and relevant legislation. Dinsdale made the comment after the
fourth meeting of EU representatives and government officials responsible for
ethnic minority issues in Central and Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, Slovak Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar, in an interview with TASR on 20 June, commented on
the results of the Joint Parliamentary Committee of the EU and Slovak
parliaments, which gave Slovakia till the end of November to implement
democratic reforms or face the prospect of not being included in EU expansion
talks. Meciar said nobody can give ultimatums to the Slovak Republic, which,
he stressed, is a sovereign state.

HUNGARY, VATICAN SIGN AGREEMENT. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo
Sodano and visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 20 June signed an
agreement on property restitution to, and financing the activities of, the
Roman Catholic Church in Hungary. According to the pact, the state will return
to the Church, or pay it compensation for, buildings and property seized under
communism. Sodano said the signing of the agreement "may serve as an example
to other post-communist countries," Hungarian media reported. Hungary's junior
coalition party, the Free Democrats, criticized the agreement for singling out
one religion for support and for giving Roman Catholic schools the same status
as state institutions. The Vatican denied that the pact gives a privileged
status to the Catholic Church over Hungary's non-Catholic believers, who are
mostly Protestants and Jews.

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY RE-ELECTS LEADER. The national council of the
Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP) on 21 June re-elected incumbent
Gyoergy Giczy as party chairman, Hungarian media reported. Giczy received 133
votes, while Zsolt Semjen garnered 102. Giczy's re-election ends a heated
debate within the KDNP that began in May following a Supreme Court decision to
annul the results of the KDNP's December 1996 contest for leadership (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1997). Giczy called for an end to factions within the
party and urged the KDNP to bring about a "genuine change of regime." Semjen
remarked that the 43% of the vote he gained indicates that his moderate policy
has considerable support in the party.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN PARTY LEADERS MEET IN ROME. Six party leaders from the three largest
election coalitions left for Rome on 22 June to reconcile their positions
before the elections slated for 29 June. The sponsor is the Roman Catholic
organization Sant Egidio, which specializes in non-violent conflict
resolution, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported on 22 June. The key players are
Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano, whose party leads a left-of-center
coalition, and the Democrats' Tritan Shehu, whose party has also formed a
coalition with smaller partners. A third coalition consists of small
conservative parties. The aim of the meeting is to produce an agreement not to
interfere in the electoral process and to respect the results of the ballot.
Contested issues remain the closing time of the polling stations and how to
assign seats on the basis of proportional representation.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY SECRETARY HARASSED IN SOUTHERN ALBANIA. In the country's
southern-most electoral district, which is near the town of Saranda, gunmen
surrounded and harassed Democratic Party Foreign Relations Secretary Leonard
Demi, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported on 22 June. The Democratic Party said that
"armed gangs of [Socialist Party leader] Gramoz Ruci" attacked Demi, who has
participated in a number of party rallies in southern Albania. President Sali
Berisha has not spoken at any rallies in the rebel-controlled south out of
concern for his safety. Meanwhile, a bomb injured four people in the night
from 20-21 June in Tirana's Student City, "Dita Informacion" reported. The
dormitory area has received a number of bomb threats in the last two weeks.

ALBANIAN CANDIDATES' REGISTRATION PROCESS COMPLETED. The last candidates'
lists reached the Central Election Commission on 21 June, nine days after the
deadline, "Koha Jone" reported. The lustration committee has also finished its
work. "Koha Jone" journalist Frrok Cupi succeeded on 21 June in getting the
commission's earlier ban on his candidacy in Vlora overturned, "Dita
Informacion" reported. The ballot papers can now be printed, and the OSCE
estimates they will be ready by 26 June. This leaves the commission two days
to distribute the material throughout the country. Confusion nonetheless
remains over the exact role the OSCE and the multinational force will play in
distributing ballot boxes and other high security materials. According to OSCE
policy, the Albanian government must distribute the materials itself and the
OSCE will only monitor the delivery.

DENVER SUMMIT INSISTS ON RESPECT FOR DAYTON AGREEMENT. The leaders of the G-7
countries plus Russia announced in Denver on 21 June that development aid for
Serbs, Croats, and Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina will depend on those parties'
compliance with the Dayton agreement. The world leaders also said they expect
Croatia and federal Yugoslavia to cooperate with the Hague-based war crimes
tribunal and to observe international norms regarding human rights. The
warnings reflect a growing view in major capitals that Bosnia is likely to
split into three ethnically based parts unless the international community
brings fresh pressure to bear on the treaty's signatories. But Momcilo
Krajisnik, the Bosnian Serb member of the joint presidency, said in Pale on 22
June that the Bosnian Serbs will not give into "blackmail" in order to get
reconstruction aid. He said his people would prefer aid from Serbia instead.

DJUKANOVIC SAYS MONTENEGRINS UNITED. Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said in
Podgorica on 22 June that Montenegrins uniformly oppose Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic's plans to change the federal Yugoslav Constitution to
Montenegro's disadvantage. The previous day, he met with Serbian opposition
leader Zoran Djindjic in Tivat. They stressed the need for federal Yugoslavia
to be allowed to resume membership in international organizations and for
political and economic reforms at home. Djindjic and Djukanovic also discussed
possible cooperation between their two parties, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Belgrade. Djukanovic's Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) has
backed Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in the past, but Djukanovic
led a revolt in his party against that alliance. In Belgrade on 20 June, SPS
Vice President Milorad Vucelic warned that fighting within the DPS could
"weaken the [Yugoslav] federation" as a whole.

MEDICAL STRIKE ENDS IN SERBIA. Representatives of the health workers' union
have announced in Belgrade that their six-week strike will end on 23 June.
Serbian Health Minister Leposava Milicevic and union leader Stevan Djordjevic
signed an agreement on 21 June that provides for the payment of back wages by
the end of the month, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian
capital. Also in Belgrade, Milos Vasic, the editor of the weekly "Vreme," was
elected president of the Independent Society of Journalists of Serbia. Later
that night, unidentified persons broke into the organization's offices and
stole two fax machines and two telephones.

ROW IN CROATIAN OPPOSITION PARTY. The national organization of the Croatian
Social-Liberal Party (HSLS) said in Zagreb on 21 June that the recent
agreement between the HSLS representatives on the Zagreb city council and
those of the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) is "void." As a
result of that pact, HSLS council member Dorica Nikolic was elected as deputy
mayor and the national leadership decided to suspend the Zagreb group from the
party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 1997). Nikolic said that, as deputy
mayor, she could promote citizens' interests, but the HSLS leadership charged
that she was motivated by personal ambition, an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from the Croatian capital. Some observers suggest that events in Zagreb could
force a formal split in the HSLS, whose members have long been divided over
the question of cooperation with the HDZ.

ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. According to Croatian Development Minister
Jure Radic, demands that Croatia extend equal rights to all its citizens,
including to Serbian refugees who want to go home, are "unacceptable." Radic
told the Zagreb daily "Vjesnik" of 21 June that such demands fail to
differentiate "between those [Serbs] who took part in aggression and those
[Croats] who defended themselves." Meanwhile, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez
Drnovsek sent a telegram to President Bill Clinton on 22 June, asking him to
reconsider his position on Slovenia's membership in NATO. And in Skopje,
President Kiro Gligorov returned from a visit to the U.S.. He said Clinton
agreed to help Macedonia combat poverty and that the two men agreed on issues
related to Balkan security.

UPDATE ON ROMANIA'S NATO BID. Victor Ciorbea met with U.S. Defense Secretary
William Cohen and IMF President Michael Camdessus in Washington on 20 June.
Cohen told reporters that the U.S. did not "say 'no' to Romania's bid to join
NATO, but only 'not yet.'" Meanwhile, at the Summit of the Eight in Denver on
21 June, French President Jacques Chirac reiterated to U.S. President Bill
Clinton that France wants Romania to be in the first group admitted to NATO.
Clinton's National Security adviser Samuel Berger said after the meeting that
the U.S. has not changed its mind.

FINAL SPLIT IN ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY. Former Foreign Minister Teodor
Melescanu and former Deputy Prime Minister Mircea Cosea on 21 June resigned
from the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR). They told a press
conference in Bucharest they had failed to convince party chairman Ion Iliescu
to agree to a compromise solution whereby neither the party's reformist group
(headed by Melescanu) nor its conservative group (headed by Adrian Nastase)
would be represented in the leadership team elected at the party's 20-21 June
National Conference. Two other members of the reformist group, Iosif Boda and
Viorel Salagean, were expelled from the PDSR by their respective Bucharest
branches on 20 June, and a fifth member, deputy Marian Enache, resigned from
the party one day earlier. Iliescu was re-elected PDSR chairman by an
overwhelming majority, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.

ROMANIAN MINERS END STRIKE. The miners in the Jiu valley on 20 June ended a
ten-day strike after reaching an agreement with the state mining company. The
agreement provides for a 23.3 % wage hike beginning 1 July and a further 7%
raise as of 1 August, an RFE/RL correspondent in Petrosani reported. Also on
20 June, Marin Condeescu said his National Confederation of Mining Unions
(which does not represent the Jiu valley miners) is demanding a 25% reduction
in taxes on wages beginning 1 July. Condeescu said restructuring in the mining
industry should proceed only after alternatives have been found for miners who
stood to lose their jobs as a result of the reorganization.

MOLDOVA CRITICIZED BY INTERNATIONAL FINANCE INSTITUTIONS. James Parks, the
permanent representative of the World Bank in Chisinau, told the Moldovan
government on 20 June that the privatization program currently debated by the
parliament is not comprehensive enough, BASA-Press reported. The same day, the
parliament ended a debate on privatization, after excluding several major
enterprises from the process. The privatization program was not voted on
because of the lack of a quorum. Also on 20 June, Infotag reported that the
IMF has postponed granting a $25 million to Moldova because the conditions for
the loan have not been met. Meanwhile, Petru Lucinschi, on a three-day visit
to Israel, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister
David Levy in Jerusalem on 22 June. Agreements on cooperation in education,
civil aviation, science, culture and tourism were signed by members of the two
delegations, AFP reported.

BULGARIA ASKS TURKEY TO BACK NATO MEMBERSHIP BID. President Petar Stoyanov has
asked Turkey to back his country's bid for NATO membership, the President's
Office reported on 21 June. Stoyanov, who has postponed a scheduled visit to
Turkey from 23-25 June until the formation of the new government in Ankara,
made the request in a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart,
Suleyman Demirel. Demirel assured him that Turkey supports both Bulgaria's and
Romania's NATO efforts as a "natural step for strengthening NATO's southern
flank." In other news, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov on 20 June presented in the
parliament an austerity budget, in accordance with the law that also
establishes the National Currency Board beginning 1 July.

POLICE FREE BULGARIAN BUSINESS EXECUTIVE. Penko Dimitrov, the deputy executive
director of the Bulgargas state monopoly, was freed on 20 June by police (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 1997). Premier Kostov told a press conference in
Sofia that Dimitrov was abducted by the Elos private security firm on the
orders of Vesselin Todorov, the head of a firm whose interests "were badly
hurt by the principled positions of the Bulgargas management," according to
Reuters. He was freed by police after being held for 22 hours, Minister of
Interior Bogumil Bonev told the same press conference.



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