The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension. - Ezra Pound
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 60, Part II, 25 June 1997


Vol. 1, No. 60, Part II, 25 June 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/

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part II

* BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES LUKASHENKA'S BROAD POWERS

* STORMS KILL 12 PEOPLE IN UKRAINE, BELARUS

* ALBANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS DECREE AGAINST PYRAMID SCHEMES

End Note
ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY SPLITS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES LUKASHENKA'S BROAD POWERS. The Belarusian
parliament on 24 June confirmed the sweeping powers won by President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka in a controversial referendum in November 1996. Vladimir
Karavai, the head of the parliamentary legislation and state-building
committee, told journalists that lawmakers had "consolidated the decisions
taken by a majority of Belarusian citizens last fall." Critics said the
referendum was illegitimate and ignored the old constitution. The
constitutional changes approved by the referendum extended Lukashenka's term
by more than two years to 2002 and tightened his grip on state institutions,
including parliament. Following the referendum, Lukashenka re-formed both
houses of the parliament, which now give him overwhelming support.

WORLD BANK REPRESENTATIVE CRITICAL OF BELARUS. Christopher Willoughby, the
World Bank's representative in Minsk, told journalists on 24 June that Belarus
continues to back away from reforms and is increasing state interference in
the economy. The bank's Minsk office opened three years ago but is now moving
to Kyiv, Ukraine, as part of a bank reorganization. Willoughby said the main
obstacle to reform is at the political level. He said economic restructuring
has been "in reverse" since late 1995 and that, since then, the bank and the
IMF have suspended their lending activities in Belarus. Willoughby is
preparing a new memorandum of understanding between Belarus and the bank,
which spells out the reforms the bank would require the country to undertake
to resume lending. He told reporters, however, that the situation in Belarus
is worse than it was two years ago. RFE/RL's Washington correspondent reports
that officials in the U.S. capital say no new loans are being considered.

STORMS KILL 12 PEOPLE IN UKRAINE, BELARUS. A storm with high winds that struck
western Ukraine and parts of Belarus on 24 June killed 12 people and injured
scores of others. A spokeswoman for Ukraine's Emergencies Ministry told
journalists in Kyiv that eight people died and some 30 others were injured in
Ukraine's Volyn region. Most were killed by falling trees or were electrocuted
by downed powerlines. Winds reportedly reaching 115 km an hour left three
people dead and more than 40 injured in neighboring Belarus. The Minsk and
Brest regions were hardest hit by the storm. Authorities say 620 homes were
destroyed in Belarus and 140 farming installations were damaged.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TELLS UN CHORNOBYL WILL CLOSE. Leonid Kuchma told the UN
General Assembly on 24 June that Ukraine will honor its commitment to close
the Chornobyl nuclear power plant by the year 2000, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service
reported. Addressing a special General Assembly session on world environmental
issues, the so-called Earth Summit, Kuchma said "it is not economically
profitable to pollute the environment." Later in the day, Kuchma met Russian
Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin and Argentine President Carlos Menem.

UKRAINIAN OFFICIAL SUGGESTS JOINING NATO. Deputy Foreign Minister Anton
Buteiko, speaking at a press conference in Kyiv on 24 June, suggested that
Ukraine will eventually consider applying for membership in NATO. "We have
already integrated into one trans-Atlantic structure, the Organization for
Cooperation and Security in Europe. Another target is NATO." He added that the
charter on special cooperation between NATO and Ukraine, which is scheduled to
be signed in Madrid on 9 July, will create a legislative base for the
practical integration of Ukraine into NATO."

BALTIC LEADERS REITERATE DETERMINATION TO JOIN NATO. The Baltic States again
made their case for admission into NATO at the alliance's security forum in
Prague, CTK reported on 24 June. Estonian Defense Minister Andrus Oovel said
the Baltic States' admission into the alliance would enhance security on the
continent and also compensate for past injustices toward the Balts. In an
interview with RFE/RL's Estonian service, Oovel did not mention any possible
date for Estonia's entry into NATO, saying a lot still needed to be done in
the country to achieve that goal. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Algirdas
Saudargas said NATO should express "clear political will" toward countries
that are not invited to join the alliance in the first wave of enlargement.
Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs hailed the expected admission of some
former communist-bloc countries into NATO and said he expected those new
members to be the Baltic States "natural allies."

LITHUANIAN BANKER COMMITTED SUICIDE. Gennady Konoplyov, the former manager of
the Tauras bank who was found dead with a gunshot wound in the head (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1997), committed suicide, Interfax reported, citing
the Lithuanian Prosecutor's Office. The 52-year-old banker left behind a
letter explaining he had taken his life because of the "artificially caused
collapse" of the bank. He also claimed that he and his family had been
"terrorized by the KGB [and] various rogues wanting to become 'politicians,'
recently the ruling majority." Tauras ran into financial difficulties in
March, and the Central Bank recently stripped the bank's board of
decision-making powers and barred the bank from all banking operations.

POLISH PARLIAMENT WANTS RUSSIA TO COMPENSATE DEPORTED POLES. The lower chamber
of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, approved a resolution on 24 June demanding
compensation from Moscow for Poles who were deported to Siberia by the Soviet
Union during World War II, dpa reported. The resolution calls on the Polish
government to open talks with Russia on the issue. After the Soviet occupation
of eastern Poland in September 1939, as many as 1.5 million Poles were
deported to work in forced labor camps in Siberia. Hundreds of thousands are
believed to have died in the camps. An association representing camp survivors
says it now has more than 100,000 members.

POLISH GOVERNMENT SPLIT OVER DEATH PENALTY. Polish government members are
divided over whether the death penalty in Poland should be restored. Calls
among the public to reintroduce the death penalty have intensified in the wake
of a series of recent murders. Interior Minister Leszek Miller told a news
conference in Warsaw on 24 June that potential murderers could be deterred by
the death penalty. However, Justice Minister Leszek Kubicki argued against
restoring capital punishment, telling the same conference that the best
deterrent is to ensure criminals were caught and the law enforced. Prime
Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz told Polish Radio that he is opposed to
restoring the death sentence, which was suspended shortly before the 1989 fall
of communism and abolished in a new criminal code recently approved by the
parliament. On 23 June, thousands had marched through Warsaw to protest the
recent killing of a 19-year-old student by a gang whose members were angry he
had attended a picnic in woods they regarded as their turf.

CZECH PRESIDENT DECORATES GEN. JOULWAN. Vaclav Havel on 24 June decorated U.S.
Gen. George Joulwan, NATO's supreme commander in Europe, with the Order of the
White Lion. Joulwan received the honor, the country's highest, in
acknowledgment of his "considerable services" to the Czech Republic, Czech TV
reported. The general praised the Czech Republic and its soldiers for the role
they played in the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. Joulwan, who is retiring
next month, is in Prague as the chief organizer of a security forum on NATO.

EU AID TO SLOVAKIA USED TO REWRITE HISTORY OF HOLOCAUST. The European
Commission admitted on 25 June that EU aid to Slovakia was used to fund a
children's history book that seeks to justify the mass deportation of Jews to
concentration camps during World War II. A commission spokeswoman told
journalists in Brussels that the book, intended for use in every primary
school in Slovakia, was published using funds intended to help the country
prepare for admission to the EU. The commission has written to the Slovak
authorities demanding they withdraw the book and ensure there is no repeat of
the incident. The book, written by Milan Durica, a Roman Catholic priest, has
been severely criticized by leaders of Slovakia's Jewish and Protestant
communities. A nominally independent Slovak state was established under the
control of Nazi Germany during the war.

SLOVAK POLITICAL ROUNDUP. A government spokesman told journalists on 25 June
that Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar will invite opposition party
representatives to talks in early July. Following their 23 June talks with
President Michal Kovac, leaders of two government parties and eight opposition
parties said they are ready to attend round-table talks between the opposition
and the coalition parties chaired by the premier. Meanwhile, on 24 June, the
coalition deputies rejected most proposals made by the opposition. But the
parliament did approve the opposition bill on direct presidential elections in
its first reading. Two more readings are required for the bill to pass.

RUSSIA RENEWS DRIVE TO SELL MiGS TO HUNGARY. A delegation of the State Duma's
Defense Committee has renewed the drive to convince Budapest to purchase
Russian-made aircraft, Hungarian media reported. Committee chairman Lev Rohlin
argued at a meeting with members of the Hungarian parliamentary Defense
Committee in Budapest on 24 June that the overhaul of 30 MiG-21 aircraft would
cost some $150-180 million, while the price of the same number of Western-made
planes would be at least $2 billion. He added that Russia is ready to sell
Hungary MiG-29 jets as well as SZ-300 missiles and noted that the deal could
help clear Russia's state debt to Hungary. A similar offer was made in late
May by Russian Deputy Premier Vladimir Bulgak during a visit to Budapest (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 27 May 1997).

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS DECREE AGAINST PYRAMID SCHEMES. Sali Berisha has
signed a decree providing for strict controls on investment companies and
aimed ultimately shutting them down, ATA reported on 24 June. The IMF and the
World Bank demanded the appointment of independent administrators to control
and then close the pyramid firms. Both institutions sent a joint letter to
Berisha on 22 June warning him that future international financial help will
depend on complying with their demands as soon as possible. Some of the
schemes still continue to operate, such as VEFA, which also runs passenger
ferries and its own TV station. VEFA is repaying investors' original deposits
in increments but will no longer pay interest, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Tirana.

POLLING STATIONS TO STAY OPEN LATE IN ALBANIA. President Berisha said on 24
June that he cannot legally change the closing times of the polling stations
from 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., as the Central Election Commission had requested
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1997). The commission responded by asking the
Constitutional Court to decide, "Indipendent" reported. The majority of the
commission, including its secretary from Berisha's own Democratic Party,
supported the earlier closing time, but two other Democrats were strongly
opposed. The OSCE has asked for the polling stations to close at 6:00 p.m. The
parliament has been dissolved, and Berisha is currently the only person who
can deal with such matters. He changed the opening hours of the polling
stations for the May 1996 parliamentary elections on voting day itself.

THREE POLICEMEN SHOT OUTSIDE HOUSE OF ALBANIAN POLICE CHIEF. Four unidentified
persons injured three policemen in a shoot-out outside the Tirana home of
police chief and Deputy Interior Minister Agim Shehu, "Indipendent" reported
on 25 June. It remains unclear whether the incident was politically motivated.
Meanwhile, four smugglers were shot and injured in two separate incidents on
the northern border with Kosovo in the region of Tropoja and Kukes, "Gazeta
Shqiptare" wrote. In the mountainous region between Shkoder and the
Montenegrin border, Red Cross officials have begun investigating reports of
famine. And in Tirana, additional election monitors are arriving, bringing the
total number of OSCE observers to 450, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
the Albanian capital.

LILIC ENDS TERM AS FEDERAL YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT. Zoran Lilic, who is barred by
the constitution from seeking reelection, completed his four-year mandate on
25 June. Upper house speaker Srdja Bozovic is interim president until the
parliament elects a new chief executive, which it must do by 25 July. The only
declared candidate is Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who has the
endorsement of his own Socialist Party of Serbia and its Montenegrin allies.
His election is a foregone conclusion, since he has a comfortable majority in
the legislature. The Belgrade press has centered its attention on who will
succeed Milosevic in the Serbian presidency. Also in Belgrade, Zoran Djindjic
of the Democratic Party said on 24 June that the Zajedno coalition has ceased
to exist. He added that the most serious opposition to Milosevic now comes
from Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and his allies.

MONTENEGRIN OPPOSITION BLASTS SUPPORT FOR MILOSEVIC CANDIDACY. All opposition
parties have criticized the governing Democratic Socialist Party's (DPS)
decision to endorse Milosevic for the federal presidency, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Podgorica on 24 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24
June 1997). An opposition spokesman accused the government of postponing a
session of the parliament in order to avoid criticism of the DPS's endorsement
of the Serbian leader. Meanwhile in Pristina, Milosevic arrived on 25 June for
his first visit to Kosovo in two years. And in Belgrade the previous day,
Refugee Minister Bratislava Morina received representatives of Kosovo Serbs
who have been staging a hunger strike to force the government to deliver on
its promises of housing and other assistance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June
1997).

WASHINGTON BLOCKS LOAN FOR CROATIA. Croatian Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa said
in Dubrovnik on 25 June that the U.S. decision to veto a $30 million loan to
his country from the World Bank is "wrong." A State Department spokesman
commented in Washington the previous day that the U.S. is disappointed with
Zagreb's failure to implement key provisions of the Dayton agreement, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from the U.S. capital. The spokesman singled out
Croatia's poor record on the return of Serbian refugees and on cooperation
with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. Meanwhile at that court, Croatian
Gen. Tihomir Blaskic has denied the charges against him, which are related to
atrocities against Muslims in the Lasva valley in 1993 (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
24 June 1997). He said he had been under fire in his bunker at the time of the
alleged incidents and did not know what his ill-disciplined peasant recruits
were doing in the field.

UN TO DELAY WITHDRAWAL FROM EASTERN SLAVONIA? UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
said in New York on 24 June that some peacekeepers should remain in eastern
Slavonia in mid-July, when that Serb-held region is slated to return to
Croatian control. Annan suggested that some troops stay at least until
mid-October and then leave only if Croatia has kept its promises regarding
treatment of the Serbs. Ivan Simonovic, Croatia's ambassador to the UN,
criticized Annan's call for UN peacekeepers to supervise the Croatian police
and for the UN's Jacques Klein to have a veto over the work of the local
Croatian civilian authorities, BETA reported.

ROMANIAN CONTINUES BID FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP. In an interview with RFE/RL on 24
June, President Emil Constantinescu said that "in a paradoxical way," the
failure of Romania to be nominated for membership in NATO in the first wave
has worked to the country's advantage. Constantinescu said Romania is now the
focus of attention of international diplomacy and the international media. He
added that nobody doubted that Romania will eventually be admitted into the
organization. The question, he said, is only "when and how." In a separate
interview with RFE/RL, Defense Minister Victor Babiuc said it will be
"illogical" to extend NATO without Romania, which is "the missing link" in
NATO's southern flank. Foreign Minister Adrian Severin, on a two-day visit to
Belgium to promote NATO membership, met with Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene,
Foreign Minister Derycke Erik, and other officials on 24 June.

ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER WRAPS UP U.S. VISIT. An eight-day visit to the US by
Victor Ciorbea ended on 24 June with his "unexpected return" to Washington
from New York for talks with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, an
RFE/RL Washington correspondent reported. A State Department official who did
not want to be identified said the meeting did not mean the U.S. has changed
its mind about which countries should be invited to join NATO in the first
wave. After the meeting, Ciorbea declined to comment on speculations in the
Romanian and international media that President Bill Clinton is planning a
visit to Romania in the near future. However, Ciorbea noted that a "surprising
move" confirming the "strategic alliance" between Bucharest and Washington can
be expected. The premier had made a similar comment to the RFE/RL Romanian
service after his meeting with Vice President Al Gore on 18 June.

ROMANIAN FASCISTS MARK ANNIVERSARY. Veterans of the Fascist League of the
Archangel Michael (also known as the Iron Guard) gathered in Iasi, in
northeast Romania, on 24 June to mark the 70th anniversary of the
establishment of the movement. The Private television channel "Antena 1"
reported that the ceremony was attended by participants from Bucharest, Cluj,
Timisoara, Ploiesti, and Sibiu. Representatives of organizations of young
people supporting the revival of Iron Guard ideology were also present.

HAILSTORMS CAUSE EXTENSIVE DAMAGE IN ROMANIA. Hailstorms on 24 June hit
several counties in Romania, causing extensive damage. Two persons were
hospitalized "in serious condition" in the southern Olt County. The hailstorms
also affected the northwestern Maramures region , severely damaging houses in
several villages. On 21-22 June, seven people were killed and more than 80 had
to be hospitalized following hailstorms in the southern counties.

BULGARIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL CRITICIZES LUKANOV SETTLEMENT. Ivan Tatarchev on
24 June told an RFE/RL Sofia correspondent that former Prime Minister Andrei
Lukanov's family should not have been paid $7,000 in compensation for his
arrest and detention before it returned to the state "a significant amount of
money" the assassinated politician spent on travel and medical bills in
Austria before 1989. The compensation was paid in line with the ruling of a
Council of Europe Human Rights Court in Strasbourg. Lukanov was killed in
front of his Sofia home in October 1996. In 1992, he was stripped of
parliamentary immunity and jailed for six months on charges of
misappropriating funds in the 1980s. The court ruled that the detention had
violated the European Human Rights Convention.

BULGARIA PLANS TO SET UP GENDARMERIE. An Interior Ministry official announced
on 24 June that Bulgaria plans to establish a national gendarmerie to guard
strategic sites and help fight crime, Reuters reported. The official said
troops currently used to guard embassies and consulates will be transformed
into a force modeled on the French gendarmerie. The units will also guard
industrial sites and oil pipelines--among them the Kozloduy nuclear power
plant, the Maritsa East coal mining and thermal power complex, and the
Neftochim oil refinery. In other news, the government on 24 June dismissed the
manager of the Bobovdol mine, where a tragic accident occurred the previous
day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1997). BTA cited Deputy Prime Minister
Evgeni Bakardizhev as saying that more than 20 miners have been killed at the
Bobovdol mine in the past eight years, noting this was an "unacceptable"
safety record.

END NOTE

ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY SPLITS

by Michael Shafir

        The split that marked the end of the 20-21 June National Conference of
Romania's main opposition party, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania
(PDSR), came as no surprise. Tensions within the party had surfaced well ahead
of the conference, the first major PDSR gathering since the party was roundly
defeated in the November 1996 elections. In most democracies, such debacles
call for those responsible to be replaced--witness the recent resignations of
John Major as leader of Britain's Conservative Party and of Alain Juppe as
leader of the French central-right alliance.
         But such democratic practice is rare in formations that remain prisoner
 s of
their communist legacy. Ion Iliescu, the former president of Romania and the
current PDSR chairman, became party leader only after losing the presidential
contest to Emil Constantinescu. But it was generally acknowledged that before
November 1996, the party was headed in all but name by Iliescu, who, as
president, was constitutionally barred from belonging to a party. Rather than
assuming responsibility for the PDSR's loss of its parliamentary majority,
Iliescu assumed the formal leadership of the PDSR.
        At the same time, other PDSR leaders could still have been called to acc
 ount
for the party's failure in the 1996 elections. Of these, Adrian Nastase,
executive chairman of the PDSR from 1992 to 1996 and first deputy chairman
after Iliescu assumed the party leadership, was by far the most prominent.
Perhaps nothing contributed more to the PDSR's poor performance in 1996 than
Nastase's image--whether justified or unjustified--of a politician embodying
corruption.
         On the eve of the PDSR National Conference, a manifesto was published b
 y a
reformist group within the party, which called itself the Opinion Group for
the Transformation of the PDSR. The group includes several "newcomers," whom,
ironically, Iliescu had promoted to leading positions shortly before the last
elections in a bid to improve the party's image: former Foreign Minister
Teodor Melescanu, the head of the group; former Deputy Prime Minister Mircea
Cosea; Iosif Boda, a former ambassador to Switzerland; Marian Enache, a former
ambassador to Moldova; and the economist Viorel Salagean. The group demanded
that the PDSR rid itself of corrupt members and force those responsible for
the party's electoral defeat to assume responsibility. It also urged the party
to move ideologically from the Left to the Center-Left.
        But precisely the opposite happened at the National Conference. Colored
 by
his lengthy experience of communist infighting, Iliescu was able to consider
the demands of the reformists from only one perspective: namely, that his own
position as PDSR leader might ultimately be affected. This explains his
unrestrained attack on Boda in early June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June
1997), which even Iliescu himself described as "Bolshevik-like" a few days
later. It also explains his statement that newcomers to the PDSR would be
better advised to "work at the grass-root level" than criticize the leadership
that co-opted them (conveniently forgetting that he, too, was a "newcomer" to
the party). His "democratic centralist" attack on "party factionalism" and his
declaration that the party should move to the Left may also be traced back to
this single, communist-influenced perspective.
        In the event, the pro-reform group was not allowed even to present its
platform at the National Conference. Iliescu rejected Melescanu's last-minute
"compromise proposal" that neither the pro-reform group nor Nastase and his
cronies run for leadership positions.
        Melescanu was thus left with no choice than to announce he was leaving t
 he
PDSR, which both he and Cosea proceeded to do on 21 June. Two other members of
the group, Boda and Salagean, had been expelled from the party the previous
day, while Enache had submitted his resignation on 19 June. Mugurel Vintila,
an advocate of radical reform, also quit the party, even though he is not a
member of Melescanu's group. Several days later, on 24 June, Ioan Pintea
followed suit.
        Those resignations leave the PDSR faction in the legislature weakened, s
 ince
all but Salagean are parliamentary deputies. The group is unlikely to heed the
call by Iliescu, who was re-elected PDSR chairman by an overwhelming majority,
that its members resign from the parliament. In fact, Melescanu has already
rejected that option, saying he will not join other formations but hopes to
set up a new political entity.
        What happened at the PDSR National Conference is almost a carbon-copy of
  the
developments that led to the "divorce" of Iliescu's conservative group from
the reformist group headed by Petre Roman in 1992. An alliance between
Melescanu and Roman's Democratic Party cannot be ruled out.
        As for Iliescu, he still has Nastase as first deputy chairman and also
Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party, as his
new-old political ally following a period in which the two were avowed
enemies. Attending the PDSR gathering, Tudor expressed regret for having
earlier attacked Iliescu. The delegate applauded enthusiastically. But it is
debatable whether the "born-again, red-brown alliance" will find the same
approval among voters in election-year 2000.




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