Some things have to be believed to be seen. - Ralph Hodgson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 62, Part II, 27 June1997


Vol. 1, No. 62, Part II, 27 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

* UKRAINE SAYS DEVELOPED NATIONS NOT ACTING ON CHORNOBYL

* POLITICAL VIOLENCE INCREASES ON EVE OF ALBANIAN ELECTIONS

* KOSOVAR ALBANIANS CRITICIZE MILOSEVIC'S VISIT

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE SAYS DEVELOPED NATIONS NOT ACTING ON CHORNOBYL. Foreign Minister
Hennadiy Udovenko on 26 June complained that the world's leading industrial
nations are not honoring pledges to help Ukraine recover from the 1986 nuclear
disaster at Chornobyl. Udovenko told journalists in New York that the major
powers have been slow in providing technical assistance, advice, and financial
aid. The minister is attending the UN Earth Summit. President Leonid Kuchma
told the summit on Tuesday that his country spends about $1 billion a year to
try to minimize the impact of the Chornobyl disaster. At the recent Summit of
Eight in Denver, world leaders pledged an additional $300 million to help
Ukraine build a shell over the destroyed Chornobyl reactor.

KUCHMA AIDE ON GOVERNMENT'S FUTURE. Yevgeny Kushnaryov, head of the
Presidential Administration, told journalists in Kyiv on 26 June that "no
formal grounds exist today for discussing the fate of the country's
government. If something changes, such grounds may appear." President Kuchma
on 19 June appointed First Deputy Prime Minister Vasily Durdinets acting prime
minister "for the period of Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko's illness."
Lazarenko was taken to hospital the same day, and doctors say he may need an
operation for varicose veins and chronic thrombophlebitis. But observers view
Durdinets' appointment as the de facto dismissal of Lazarenko.

HUMAN RIGHTS IN BELARUS DEFENDED, CRITICIZED. Belarusian Deputy Foreign
Minister Sergei Martynov told an international business conference in
Crans-Montana, Switzerland, that his government respects human rights and is
striving to meet international standards, an RFE/RL correspondent reported.
Martynov said that the freedoms of speech, assembly, and the press are
respected in Belarus. He acknowledged there is room for improvement in the
human rights situation. Meanwhile, the New York-based Committee to Protect
Journalists has sent a letter to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
condemning draft amendments to the press law adopted on 25 June by the lower
house of the Belarusian parliament. The amendments provide for considerably
more intervention in the media by the executive branch's State Press Committee
and extend the number and range of penalties that the committee can impose.

NEW BRIDGE ACROSS NARVA TO LINK ESTONIA, RUSSIA? Estonian Transport and
Communications Minister Raivo Vare has urged that a new bridge be built across
the Narva River to ease problems for traffic crossing between Estonia and
Russia and to boost transit trade, ETA reported. The current bridge is in very
poor condition and operates at overcapacity. Vare noted he discussed the issue
at a recent meeting with the governor of St. Petersburg Oblast, who, he said,
also expressed concern about border crossing issues. The minister admitted it
would be difficult to find the funds for such a project but said some money
could come from the EU PHARE program earmarked for border-crossing projects.
Ninety percent of all transit trade through Estonia uses the Tallinn-Narva
route.

ANOTHER LATVIAN MINISTER CHARGED WITH VIOLATING ANTI-CORRUPTION LAW. The
Prosecutor's Office has charged that Agriculture Minister Roberts Dilba
violated the anti-corruption law by failing to declare shares in two companies
when filling out an income declaration, BNS reported on 26 June. Dilba also
continues to hold posts in two companies, the state-owned Priekuli firm and
Agrobirza. Prime Minister Andris Skele, who is currently in Amsterdam to
attend the meeting of premiers and foreign ministers of EU associate
countries, said he will decide whether to ask for Dilba's resignation next
month, when Skele returns from vacation. He has already demanded that State
Health Minister Juris Vinkelis resign (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 1997),
while Culture Minister Rihards Piks has tendered his resignation. So far, the
Prosecutor's Office has charged seven ministers with violating the law.

FRANCE ASSURES POLAND OF CONTINUED SUPPORT OVER NATO MEMBERSHIP. French Prime
Minister Lionel Jospin told visiting Polish Premier Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz
that France supports Poland's membership in NATO, AFP reported. He said the
French government has changed "but not French support for Poland." The two
politicians also discussed conditions that Poland has to meet in order to
qualify for EU membership. Meanwhile, Reuters reported White House officials
as saying that U.S. President Bill Clinton has decided to visit Poland and
Romania after the 8-9 July NATO summit in Madrid. They said Clinton wants to
visit one of the three countries that the U.S. has backed for NATO membership
and also one country that was in the running for NATO membership but has not
been backed by Washington in order to show that the U.S. remains open to its
membership at a later date.

CZECH PRESIDENT MEETS PARTY LEADERS OVER NATO. Vaclav Havel on 26 June met
with leaders of the three government coalition parties and the opposition
Social Democrats to request their active support for the Czech Republic's
membership in NATO. The leaders of the two other parliamentary parties, the
extreme-right Republicans and the Communists, were not invited. Both parties
staunchly oppose NATO membership. Havel told journalists after the meeting
that the four parties represent about 80% of Czechs. He said the Czech
Republic is ready to accept all tasks that may result from its membership in
NATO and that it will do everything possible to become an equal member of the
alliance. Social Democratic Party Chairman Milos Zeman told journalists after
the meeting that his party is in favor of NATO membership but that it
continues to insist on a referendum and is opposed to deploying foreign troops
and nuclear weapons on Czech territory.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION PREVENTS PRIVATIZATION OF TV CHANNEL. The opposition
parties, supported by some coalition deputies from the Slovak Workers' Party
and the Slovak National Party, have adopted a law preventing the privatization
of Slovak Television's Channel 2. The Slovak Board for Television Broadcasting
had already granted a broadcasting license for the channel to TV Dovina, which
is believed to have links to Premier Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). Culture Minister Ivan Hudec recently said in
reference to TV Dovina that a television station close to the HZDS would soon
appear. Meciar supported granting the license TV Dovina.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT AGAIN URGES EARLY ELECTIONS. Michal Kovac on 26 June called
for early elections to be held in Slovakia and denied there were any
discrepancies between him and the opposition parties over the question of an
early ballot. Speaking to journalists in Kosice, he said that if the state of
affairs in Slovakia remains unchanged until October 1998, when elections are
scheduled to take place, "Slovakia might miss the boat not only to NATO but
also to the EU." Kovac said it would be "very useful" to implement recent
recommendations by the EU to improve democracy in Slovakia. Premier Vladimir
Meciar called those recommendations an "ultimatum." According to Kovac, since
the opposition is unable to overrule Meciar, the country's citizens should be
given the opportunity to decide in early elections.

HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES AMENDMENT TO LAND OWNERSHIP BILL. The cabinet
headed by Gyula Horn on 26 June approved amendments to the land ownership
bill. If approved by the parliament, the new bill would allow foreign
companies registered in Hungary to own land but not foreigners as private
individuals, Hungarian media reported. The right of foreign companies to
purchase land is restricted to the administrative area where the company is
registered or where it has offices. Land owned by foreign companies will be
put up for auction if the company ceases to operate. The opposition has
protested against the new bill. The Hungarian Democratic Forum, the Christian
Democrats, the Young Democrats, and representatives of the agricultural trade
union Metesz have announced they will launch an initiative for a referendum on
the new bill.

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ACCUSED OF INFORMING UNDER COMMUNISM. Joszef
Torgyan, the leader of the Smallholders Party, says he will take legal action
against Joszef Ferenc Nagy and a group of other former members of his party
who told reporters on 26 June that Torgyan was a member of the communist-era
secret service under the name of Lajos Szatmari. The group claims Torgyan was
informed of the screening panel's findings by then Prime Minister Joszef
Antall on 31 March 1991. Torgyan told the daily "Nepszabadsag" that the
six-year-old allegations lack any foundation.

HUNGARY TO RAISE POWER GRID TO EU STANDARDS. Budapest is planning to build two
new gas turbine power plants in an effort to meet the electricity requirements
of the EU and to improve the reliability of electricity services throughout
the country. The World Bank has agreed to provide $60 million to help Budapest
quickly start the project, an RFE/RL Washington correspondent reported on 26
June.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

POLITICAL VIOLENCE INCREASES ON EVE OF ALBANIAN ELECTIONS. Eleven people were
injured in a shoot-out at a Democratic Party rally in Lushnja on 26 June at
which President Sali Berisha was present, "Dita Informacion" reported. It
remains unclear how the shooting started and who was behind it, an eyewitness
told an RFE/RL correspondent in Tirana. In Vlora, a gunman fired wildly at a
meeting of about 500 supporters of the United Right of Albania coalition.
National Front leader Abaz Ermenji was present at the rally, at which one
person was killed and two injured, "Koha Jone" reported. "Indipendent,"
however, says the incident was a fight between gang-leader and independent
parliamentary candidate Zani Caushi and the members of another gang.
Journalists and international observers were forced to remain in their hotel
all day. It remains unclear if the situation has improved.

VRANITZKY WANTS ALBANIAN POLLS TO CLOSE EARLY. Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mediator Franz Vranitzky met with Albanian
President Sali Berisha in Tirana on 26 June and urged him to change the
closing time of the polling stations from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m on 29 June.
Berisha had argued that only the Constitutional Court could make such a
decision, but Vranitzky told a press conference that he believes that the
Central Election Commission could request that the court grant it the
authority to make that decision, "Indipendent" reported. The court is expected
to announce a decision on 27 June. The opposition wants an earlier closing
time to reduce the chance of fraud under the cover of darkness. Meanwhile in
Saranda, two ethnic Greek politicians were kidnapped in separate incidents on
26 June. Control of Saranda and the rest of the far south is in the hands of
armed gangs.

THREE ALBANIAN PARTIES SAY THEY'D FORM COALITION GOVERNMENT. The party leaders
of the Socialists, Social Democrats, and the Democratic Alliance have pledged
to form a coalition government should they win a majority in the parliament,
"Dita Informacion" reported on 27 June. The Social Democrats and the
Socialists have already nominated joint candidates to increase their chances
of receiving direct seats, but the Democratic Alliance has not joined them.
The three parties also cooperated in drafting a joint proposal for a new
constitution, which has been a controversial issue in Albania since 1994.

KOSOVAR ALBANIANS CRITICIZE MILOSEVIC'S VISIT. The Albanian-language media in
Serbia's Kosovo province reacted angrily to President Slobodan Milosevic's
visit to the area on 25 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1997). The
independent "Koha Ditore" called Milosevic's appearance a "return to the scene
of the crime," a reference to his emotional political rallies in Kosovo during
his rise to power in the late 1980s. "Bujku," which is close to the leading
Democratic League of Kosovo, said the visit was "an obvious demonstration of
force...designed to give new life to Serb nationalist extremism." Belgrade
papers noted that few Albanians were in the audience for Milosevic's speeches,
and "Koha Ditore" added that even local Serbs were unenthusiastic about their
guest.

MILOSEVIC'S PARTY BACKS DOWN ON CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES. Radmilo Bogdanovic,
the vice president of the upper house of the federal Yugoslav parliament, said
in Belgrade on 26 June that his Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) will not try
to push through constitutional changes aimed at increasing Milosevic's power
(see End Note, "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1997). Bogdanovic said that the SPS
decided to back down because of its Montenegrin allies' opposition to the
amendments. He added that elections in Serbia will take place sometime between
October and December and that the SPS expects to win the presidential vote
again.

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL CRITICIZES CROATIAN TREATMENT OF SERBS. Kofi Annan told
the UN Security Council on 26 June that Croatia has not done enough to win the
confidence of eastern Slavonia's Serbs. Annan said he is concerned that the
area's return to Croatian control in mid-July could prompt large numbers of
refugees to flee to Serbia and Montenegro. Such an exodus, he added, could
have a destabilizing effect on the entire region. Annan earlier called for the
UN to delay its withdrawal until it is clear that the Serbs will be
well-treated (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 1997). Belgrade and the local
Serbs also want the UN to stay on. In Luxembourg on 26 June, EU foreign
ministers endorsed Annan's proposed delayed withdrawal. And in Zagreb, Milorad
Pupovac, a leader of the Serbian minority, said that there are now 250,000
Serbs in Croatia, down from 700,000 before 1991.

CROATIA SAYS IT DOES NOT NEED LOAN. Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa told a
closed-door government session on 26 June that Croatia can do without a $30
million loan from the World Bank, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Zagreb. Washington is trying to delay the credit in order to force Croatia to
better observe the Dayton agreement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1997). The
government later issued a statement accusing the Hague-based war crimes
tribunal of treating Croatia unfairly and of favoring the Muslims. President
Franjo Tudjman, however, said again that Croatia will faithfully implement the
Dayton agreement. Meanwhile in Dalmatia, the authorities shut down one
independent television station and three privately-owned radios. Officials
claimed that the four broadcasters had not paid for their licenses. A
spokesman for the station denied the charge.

OSCE DISQUALIFIES FOUR CROATIAN CANDIDATES IN BOSNIAN VOTE. International
officials supervising the September local elections said in Sarajevo on 26
June that they have dropped four ethnic Croats from the ballot. The four
members of the Croatian Democratic Community were allegedly involved in fraud
in registering voters in Zepce and Capljina. The OSCE has already banned from
the ballot 25 members of the Serbian Democratic Party for similar reasons, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. Meanwhile in Brussels,
NATO officials agreed to send 3,000 additional peacekeepers to Bosnia for the
elections. The soldiers will come from the countries that currently contribute
troops to the 31,000-strong SFOR.

ROMANIAN LOWER HOUSE RATIFIES TREATY WITH UKRAINE. The Chamber of Deputies on
26 June approved by 165 to 92 votes the basic treaty with Ukraine, signed by
Presidents Emil Constantinescu and Leonid Kuchma on 2 June. The three
opposition parties voted against ratification. The treaty must now be approved
by the Senate, Radio Bucharest reported. The same day, the extremist Greater
Romania Party (PRM) organized a demonstration against the treaty in front of
the presidential palace in Bucharest. President Constantinescu told the
protesters will raise the problems of the Romanian minority in Ukraine when he
meets President Leonid Kuchma in Izmail, Ukraine, on 3 July.

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER RECEIVES ADVISE FROM SLOVAK PREMIER. Slovak Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar says former President Ion Iliescu must regain power
because both Romania and Slovakia "should be governed by patriotic forces." In
a letter to Iliescu published on 26 June by the daily "Romania libera," Meciar
has volunteered to "contact the Russian leadership, based on our old contacts"
(which he does not, however, specify). Meciar says that, "for the sake of our
joint efforts to obtain security guarantees for that part of Central
Europe...that will remain without protection after the NATO enlargement," he
is also ready to use other "contacts I have in Moscow." He advises Iliescu to
refrain from exploiting growing social unrest over reforms. He notes he has
been informed about that unrest by the extreme nationalist Romanian
politicians Corneliu Vadim Tudor and Gheorghe Funar.

MEDIATORS IN TRANSDNIESTRIAN CONFLICT SUBMIT DRAFT AGREEMENT. The mediators in
the conflict between Moldova and the Transdniester breakaway region have
submitted a draft proposal for a settlement, BASA-press reported on 26 June.
The Russian, Ukrainian, and OSCE mediators expressed the hope that the draft
will serve as the basis for a "speedy and successful" outcome of the
negotiations. No details were released on the contents of the document. In
other news, Vasile Tarateanu, the president of the Federation of Romanian
Communities in Ukraine, handed Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi a memorandum
on the situation of Romanians in Ukraine and asked him to intervene on their
behalf. Radio Bucharest reported on 26 June that the memorandum describes the
problems faced by Romanians living in the Odessa and Chernivici regions.
Lucinschi promised Tarateanu to discuss the matter at the meeting of the three
countries' presidents in Izmail next week.

TIRASPOL KGB TRIES TO ABDUCT MOLDOVAN COMMUNIST LEADER. The security forces in
the town of Bendery-Tighina, which is under the control of the Transdniestrian
authorities, recently tried but failed to abduct Moldovan Communist Party
leader Vladimir Voronin, Infotag reported on 26 June. Voronin confirmed the
incident to the news agency but refused to provide any information. According
to Infotag, Voronin was in Bendery-Tighina at the time to attend a meeting of
local Communists. It cites "local observers" as saying the breakaway region's
leadership "utterly dislikes" Voronin's activities in the Transdniester. A
growing number of local communist organizations have pronounced themselves in
favor of unification with the Moldovan Communist Party. The Tiraspol
authorities view this possibility as an "encroachment on Transdniester
statehood," Infotag reported.

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REDUCES CUSTOMS TARIFFS. The parliament on 26 June
approved a bill abolishing custom tariffs on imports of mineral fuels, crude
oil and its by-products, and a number of other items. Other import tariffs
were reduced from 20% to 5%. Reducing tariffs on imported goods is one of the
conditions set by the IMF for the release of a $25 million loan, Infotag
reported. In other news, the agency reported that the Romanian private
television company Pro-TV will launch a channel in Moldova by the end of 1997.
The channel, to be called Media-Pro, will being operating with a $1 million
investment by the U.S. Central European Media Enterprises, which owns a
majority of shares in Pro-TV.

HEROIN ADDICTION GROWING IN BULGARIA. Filip Lazarov, head of the National
Council on Drug Addiction, told Reuters on 26 June that the country is facing
a sharp increase in the number of heroine addicts. "Every day 30 to 50 young
people in the big cities are becoming dependent on heroin," he said. Interior
Ministry spokesman Razum Daskalov said his ministry has evidence that more
than 2,000 drug addicts are involved in criminal activities. Daskalov told a
news conference in Sofia that Bulgaria's crisis-ridden economy faces
difficulty in fighting drug addiction and related crime. In other news, one of
the miners injured in the explosion at the Bobovdol coal mine (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 24 June 1997) has died from burns and methane gas poisoning,
Reuters reported. Three other miners are in critical condition.





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