Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends. - Benjamin Disraeli 1804-1881
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 59, Part II, 24 June1997


Vol. 1, No. 59, Part II, 24 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

* UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER TO UNDERGO SURGERY

* SLOVAK OPPOSITION, COALITION LEADERS MEET WITH PRESIDENT

* ALBANIAN PARTY LEADERS SIGN "PACT FOR FUTURE"

End Note : Pavlo Lazarenko's "Temporary" Removal
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER TO UNDERGO SURGERY. A spokesman for Pavlo Lazarenko
told journalists on 23 June that Lazarenko will undergo surgery in the next
few days. The spokesman said Lazarenko needs an operation for
thrombophlebitis, which signifies the formation of a blood clot in a blood
vessel accompanied by inflammation. President Leonid Kuchma temporarily
relieved Lazarenko of his duties for health reasons on 19 June. Deputy Prime
Minister Vasyl Durdinets was appointed acting premier. Meanwhile, the chief
doctor of Kyiv's Feofania clinic told Interfax-Ukraine on 23 June that
Lazarenko will undergo surgery for chronic phlebitis and varicose veins before
the end of the week. The physician said the decision is not final.

OSCE OFFICE MAY BE SET UP IN BELARUS. A spokesman for the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe told RFE/RL in Vienna on 23 June that
Belarus has given preliminary permission for the OSCE to open an office in
Minsk to help that country make progress toward democracy. The agreement was
reached at a meeting on 20 June between Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan
Antanovich and an OSCE envoy. The spokesman said more discussions will be
required to work out the practical details. No date had been fixed for opening
the office, which was the main recommendation of an OSCE mission that visited
Belarus in April and later issued a sharply critical report. That report
concluded the Belarusian authorities are constructing a system of totalitarian
government. It said "there is no effective political structure in Belarus to
oppose the descent into totalitarianism."

LATVIA "FULLY SUPPORTS" WASHINGTON'S DECISION ON NATO. Latvian Foreign
Minister Valdis Birkavs, speaking at RFE/RL's Prague headquarters on 23 June,
said his country "fully supports" Washington's decision to include only
Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary in the first wave of NATO expansion.
At the same time, he urged the alliance's eastward expansion to continue until
all the Baltic States are included and called on NATO members to send a "very
clear message" about the alliance's expansion intentions at the Madrid summit
next month. He also repeated that Riga is "ready to bear the full costs,
responsibilities, and risk of membership in the alliance."
Birkavs was in Prague to attend the NATO security forum.

LEADING LITHUANIAN BANKER FOUND DEAD. Gennady Konoplyov, until recently the
manager of the Tauras bank, was found shot dead in his office on 23 June,
ITAR-TASS reported. It is unclear whether Konoplyov committed suicide or was
murdered. The 52-year-old banker was considered an influential economic
reformer and one of the wealthiest people in Lithuania. But recently, the
Lithuanian Central Bank suspended the operations of the Tauras bank and
dismissed Konoplyov from his post, according to the news agency.

U.S. PRESIDENT TO VISIT POLAND, ROMANIA AFTER MADRID SUMMIT? A spokesman for
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski told journalists on 23 June that U.S.
President Bill Clinton may visit Poland after NATO's Madrid summit in July, at
which the alliance is to invite some East European countries to join. A source
close to the Polish president told Reuters the visit would likely start on 10
July and last one or two days. During his stay, Clinton would address the
Polish nation and hold a joint news conference with Kwasniewski. The same
source said Clinton would then fly to Romania.

POLISH FARMERS THREATEN TO BLOCK GERMAN BORDER CROSSING. A group of farmers
belonging to the Solidarity trade union plans to block roads at a
German-Polish border crossing on 24 June to protest food imports, PAP reported
. The blockade will take place at Jedrzychowice, southwestern Poland, and will
last indefinitely. The news agency quoted the Lower Silesia regional
Solidarity leader Marian Zagorny as saying the government has rebuffed farmer
demands for protection from imported foodstuffs.

NATO OFFICIAL SATISFIED WITH RESTRUCTURING OF CZECH ARMY. George Joulwan,
NATO'S Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, on 23 June praised the Czech
Republic's plans to restructure its armed forces but said the country must do
more to modernize them. Joulwan was speaking at a meeting in Prague with Czech
Defense Minister Miloslav Vyborny. Joulwan is in the Czech Republic taking
part in a NATO forum focusing on security issues and plans to expand the
alliance. President Vaclav Havel is to decorate Joulwan with the country's
highest award, the Order of the White Lion, in a ceremony on 24 June.
Meanwhile, Michael Zantovsky, chairman of the coalition Civic Democratic
Alliance, told Radio Frekvence on 23 June that public support for Czech entry
into NATO was low owing to the government's previous lack of interest in the
issue of NATO expansion. "If the government is not interested in it, why
should the citizens be?" Zantovsky asked.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION, COALITION LEADERS MEET WITH PRESIDENT. Following their
meeting on 23 June with President Michal Kovac, leaders of eight opposition
and two coalition parties announced they are ready to meet for round-table
talks with Premier Vladimir Meciar. They also noted that the aim of such a
dialogue would be to reach agreement on implementing the recommendations made
by the Slovak-EU parliamentary commission on 19 June. That commission demanded
progress toward consolidating Slovak democracy be made by November. The
participation in the 23 June meeting of the coalition Slovak National Party
and the Slovak Farmers' Association, a satellite of Meciar's Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), was unexpected. The HZDS and another coalition
party, the Slovak Workers' Party, were not present. Meciar told Slovak Radio
that "we don't consider the president an authority capable of conducting a
constructive dialogue."

HUNGARY WITHHOLDS FILES ON TERRORIST. A Hungarian prosecutor said on 23 June
that secret documents wanted by Germany for the trial of an accomplice of
"Carlos the Jackal" are being withheld for security reasons, "Magyar Hirlap"
reported. He said that handing over the documents would violate
"foreign-political and national-security interests of Hungary." A Berlin court
wants the files for the upcoming trial of Johannes Weinrich. They contain some
8,500 pages about Carlos and members of his gang who lived in Budapest between
1979 and 1985. A hostage-taking at the OPEC meeting in Vienna in 1975 was
among the most publicized actions undertaken by the group. The German magazine
"Der Spiegel" claims that the Hungarian government is trying to conceal the
former communist leadership's connections with international terrorist groups.

HUNGARY, MALAYSIA TO INCREASE TIES. Visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir
Mohamad and his Hungarian counterpart, Gyula Horn, agreed on 23 June to
participate jointly in rebuilding Bosnia, to increase financial and banking
ties, and to cooperate in communications and railraod development projects,
Hungarian media reported. "Hungary is a natural gateway for Malaysia to
Central Europe, the Balkans, and the Baltic States," Mahathir told a Budapest
press conference.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN PARTY LEADERS SIGN "PACT FOR FUTURE." Democratic Party leader Titan
Shehu, the Socialists' Fatos Nano, and the Social Democrats' Skender Gjinushi
agreed in Rome on 23 June to respect the results of the 29 June elections and
not to use violence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 1997). They also pledged
to grant the opposition a greater role in political life, including control
over important parliamentary commissions and the anti-corruption agency. The
opposition will also nominate the deputy speaker of the parliament. The three
parties further agreed to cooperate after the elections in the formation of a
new government, "Zeri i Popullit" reported. Sabri Godo of the Republican Party
and the National Front's Hysen Selfo refused to sign the document in Rome and
demanded that the ceremony take place in Albania, according to "Gazeta
Shqiptare."

ALBANIAN CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION STRUGGLING OVER POLLING TIME. The Central
Election Commission held a heated debate in Tirana on 23 June over the closing
time of polling stations, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. The majority of the
commission members asked President Sali Berisha to decree that the stations
close at 7:00 p.m. A Democratic Party representative, however, said that such
a move would be illegal. The Democrats want a later closing time, which the
opposition fears would enable fraud to take place under the cover of darkness.
Observers from the Albanian media at the commission meetings told an RFE/RL
correspondent that the Democratic Party representatives are deliberately
blocking the commission's work by delaying decisions. "Gazeta Shqiptare"
reported on 24 June that "the extreme stubbornness of [the two Democrats] did
not allow for a normal debate."

ALBANIAN UPDATE. A multi-party round-table meeting in Tirana on 22 June failed
to reach agreement on another key issue, namely the assigning of legislative
seats on the basis of proportional representation. The same day, five
policemen were injured, two seriously, when unidentified assailants opened
fire at their car on the outskirts of Tirana. The shots were fired after
curfew by several people who were using a military-type car, "Gazeta
Shqiptare" reported on 24 June.

MONTENEGRIN SOCIALISTS GIVE MILOSEVIC "HALF VICTORY." The governing body of
the Democratic Socialists Party (DPS) met in Podgorica on 23 June and endorsed
the candidacy of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for the federal Yugoslav
presidency. The vote was 56 to 31, with 10 abstentions, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. By a much larger
majority, however, the DPS voted down Milosevic's proposal for the direct
election of the federal president. Under the current system, the parliament
will elect the replacement for President Zoran Lilic, whose term ends on 25
June. Many Montenegrin politicians fear that direct elections would greatly
reduce their republic's influence in federal affairs by weakening the role of
the parliament. Montenegro plays a much larger role in the federal legislature
than can be justified by the size of its population.

STATE DEPARTMENT BLASTS PROPOSED SERBIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAW. A State
Department spokesman said in Washington on 23 June that Serbia's proposed law
on local government would strengthen the power of the governing Socialist
Party at the expense of the opposition. The spokesman said that the measure
would undermine the opposition's control over more than a dozen cities that
the opposition won only after a protracted political struggle with Milosevic
last winter, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the U.S. capital. Other
provisions of the legislation work against the interests of ethnic minorities
by guaranteeing a power role for Serbs and Montenegrins in areas where other
ethnic groups form the majority. Meanwhile in Ulcinj, a conference of Kosovar
Albanians and opposition Serbs opened to discuss the future of Kosovo.

BLASKIC TRIAL BEGINS IN THE HAGUE. The trial of Croatian Gen. Tihomir Blaskic
started on 23 June at the Hague-based international criminal tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia. Security for witnesses is tight, following a recent series
of leaks to the press of names of witnesses and other confidential
information. Blaskic, who also served in the Bosnian Croat army, stands
indicted on 20 counts involving atrocities against Muslims in the Lasva valley
during the 1993 Croatian-Muslim conflict. Blaskic is the most senior suspected
war criminal to stand trial so far. Charges against him stem from the orders
he formulated and gave, whereas the other men in custody at The Hague carried
out the orders of their superiors. Other top-ranking indicted
figures--including Dario Kordic, a Croatian civilian who is also wanted in
connection with the crimes in the Lasva valley--have not yet been taken into
custody.

BOSNIAN SERBS BLOCK AIRPORT AGREEMENT. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana
said in Sarajevo on 23 June that Bosnian Serb representatives raised
last-minute objections to a measure that would reopen civilian airports in
Tuzla, Mostar, and Banja Luka. The Serbs demanded that local Serbian
authorities be in full charge of the Banja Luka operation, whereas the
agreement put all three airports under a joint authority. Momcilo Krajisnik,
the Bosnian Serb member of the joint presidency, said in Pale that he also
refused to agree on a proposal for a joint body to cooperate with the
Hague-based tribunal, since the Serbs insist that each ethnic group have its
own representative at the court. The Serbs have consistently tried to
hamstring attempts at forming joint institutions.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON NATO MEMBERSHIP. Emil Constantinescu told a NATO
security forum in Prague on 23 June that the Romanian people will regard the
U.S. as "cynical" and "incapable of analyzing global interests" if his country
is not admitted to NATO at the Madrid summit in July, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported. Constantinescu said "national pride" is the driving force behind
Romania's bid to join the organization, adding "we are asking for a firm and
clear recognition of our progress." He also noted that Romania started the
campaign for NATO admission out of fear it would be left in a "gray zone."
Since then, however, the country has become "not only a security consumer but
a security provider as well," he stressed. Constantinescu also noted that the
alliance would benefit from Romania's "strong" relations with Serbia and
Bulgaria as well as with the Baltic States.

ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN NEW YORK. Addressing the UN General Assembly's
"Earth Summit" on 23 June, Victor Ciorbea said 50 years of communism "had left
nothing unpolluted in Romanian society." He said his government views cleaning
up the environment as one of its top priorities. Ciorbea also discussed his
country's application for NATO membership with several leaders also attending
the Earth Summit, including Slovenian Premier Janez Drnovsek, German
Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Italian Premier Romano Prodi, and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair, Radio Bucharest reported.

BOB DOLE IN ROMANIA. Former U.S. presidential candidate Bob Dole, concluding a
two-day visit to Romania on 23 June, said his "personal view" is that Romania
should "immediately" be accepted into NATO, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. Dole said President Bill Clinton and his administration are aware of
his opinions. During his visit, Dole met with President Emil Constantinescu
and the chairmen of the two houses of the parliament, Petre Roman and Ion
Diaconescu. He left Bucharest for Bosnia, where he was sent on an official
mission by Clinton.

MOLDOVA, U.S. SIGN AGREEMENT ON PREVENTION OF WEAPONS PROLIFERATION. Moldovan
Minister of Defense Valeriu Pasat and visiting U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary
John P. White signed an agreement in Chisinau on 23 June on preventing the
proliferation of mass destruction weapons, Infotag and BASA-press reported.
The agreement prohibits the transportation and stationing of such weapons on
Moldovan territory. The two leaders also signed an accord on military
cooperation. In addition, White met with Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc and with
deputy parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov. Among the issues discussed were
the memorandum on joint activities signed by the U.S. and Moldovan Defense
Ministries in December 1995, and Moldova's participation in NATO's Partnership
for Peace program.

LEFT-WING POLITICAL ALLIANCE SET UP IN MOLDOVA. The Socialist Unity
Party-Edinstvo, the Socialist Party, and the Moldovan Union of Communists have
set up a left wing alliance calling itself the Popular Patriotic Forces,
BASA-press reported on 23 June. The bloc was established in Balti on 21 June,
according to the agency The new alliance hailed the Russia-Belarus union and
demanded that Lenin's mausoleum in Moscow be maintained intact. It also
harshly criticized the policies of Ion Ciubuc's government and called for a
way out of the "labyrinth of destructive reforms." Valeriu Senic, Petr
Shornikov, and Florin Hristev were elected co-chairmen of the alliance.

BULGARIAN ROUNDUP. Two miners are missing and nine injured following a coal
mine blast at Bobovdol, southwestern Bulgaria, AFP reported on 23 June. Four
of the injured are in serious condition. The explosion was caused by a buildup
of methane gas. In other news, a naval exercise named "Cooperative Partner
'97" began on 22 June along Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. The exercise is being
held within the Partnership for Peace program and will last two weeks.
Participants include Greece, France, Italy, Turkey, Bulgaria, Georgia,
Romania, and Ukraine.

END NOTE

Pavlo Lazarenko's "Temporary" Removal

by Roman Kupchinsky

        On 19 June, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma issued a decree naming Fir
 st
Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Durdynets acting premier owing to Prime Minister
Pavlo Lazarenko's illness. The same day, Lazarenko was taken to Kyiv's
Feofania clinic, where he was placed under strict observation. The first
diagnosis was that Lazarenko was suffering from extreme exhaustion.
        The previous day, the Council for National Security and Defense, chaired
  by
Volodymyr Horbulin, recommended to President Kuchma that Lazarenko be removed
from his post. Horbulin commented publicly later that day that "the prime
minister has to take responsibility for the promises he did not keep."
        Appeals to remove Lazarenko had begun to intensify earlier this month. A
congress of the National Democratic Party of Ukraine (NDPU)--whose leadership
consists of many high-ranking members of Kuchma's administration as well as a
number of influential businessmen--issued an appeal to the president to
dismiss the Cabinet of Ministers and, above all, the prime minister. On 17
June, NDPU member and parliamentary deputy Oleksander Karpov said that members
of the NDPU who had called for Lazarenko's removal were receiving threatening
phone calls. The same day, Karpov repeated charges that the prime minister had
illegally privatized his government-owned dacha in Pushcha Vodytsia--one of
many corruption charges leveled against Lazarenko this year.
        Kuchma appointed Lazarenko premier in May 1996 to replace Evhen Marchuk,
  a
former chief of the Ukrainian Intelligence Service. Before his appointment,
Lazarenko had been the presidential representative in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast
and the head of both the oblast legislature and the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast
state administration. During the communist era, he was the head of a
collective farm and held various positions at the raion and oblast levels. His
association with Kuchma dates back to when Kuchma was director of the Yuhmaz
missile factory, in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast.
        Shortly after becoming prime minister, Lazarenko was faced with growing
discontent from coal miners in the Donetsk region who had not been paid wages
for several months. On 16 July 1996, while traveling by car to Donetsk to
mediate the crisis, he was the target of an assassination attempt. A bomb
placed by the side of the road exploded as Lazarenko's car passed by, leaving
a 10-foot crater. Lazarenko, however, escaped injury. Kuchma subsequently
removed Volodymyr Shcherban as presidential representative in Donetsk. At the
time, there were numerous rumors that powerful business clans in Donetsk, with
whom Shcherban allegedly had links, were behind the attempt on Lazarenko's
life.
        This year, charges of widespread corruption in the Ukrainian government
 began
to proliferate. The U.S. telecommunications company Motorola announced in
March that it was pulling out of the Ukrainian market because of "officials
constantly changing the rules of the game." The press began to link Lazarenko
to the Motorola pullout, pointing out he owns a significant portion of Kyiv
Star, a newly formed telecommunications company that was awarded a tender by
the government to install a mobile phone network in the country. Motorola had
believed it had the rights to that project. Lazarenko responded to those and
similar accusations in a letter to "The New York Times," but the charges only
increased.
        With crucial parliamentary elections scheduled for 1998, Kuchma decided
 in
May to bring in a new, "clean" deputy prime minister. Serhiy Tyhipko, the
34-year-old director of Dnipropetrovsk's Privatbank, is seen by many in Kyiv
as a future replacement for Lazarenko. By early June 1997, charges that the
president and the prime minister were cooperating in illegal deals had begun
to surface. Lazarenko had clearly become a liability to Kuchma. He was removed
on his return from an official visit to Canada to discuss greater economic
cooperation between Ottawa and Kyiv.
        The "temporary" removal of Lazarenko is regarded by many in Kyiv as
permanent. Kuchma has to show the West that he is cleaning up the government,
and the proof of the pudding was getting rid of Lazarenko. Without him, Kuchma
stands a far better chance of convincing Western financial institutions that
he is sincere about both the anti-corruption drive and the reform program,
which Lazarenko supported only half-heartedly.

The author is director of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service.




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