Be willing to have it so; acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune. - William James
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 79, Part II, 23 July1997



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

*U.S. CONCERNED ABOUT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN FORMER
COMMUNIST COUNTRIES


*BOSNIAN SERB COURT BACKS PLAVSIC


*TUDJMAN SACKS LEADING GENERALS


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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

U.S. CONCERNED ABOUT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN FORMER COMMUNIST
COUNTRIES. A report on religious freedom in 78 countries issued on
22 July by the U.S. State Department expresses concern about
religious freedom in several former communist countries. The U.S.
expressed concern about a draft law, approved by both houses of the
Russian legislature, that would restrict the activities of some
minority religions. President Boris Yeltsin has since vetoed the bill
(see Part I). The report expresses concern about harassment of and
violence against Baptists and Greek Catholics in Romania as well as
about freedom of worship of non-Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria. It
also notes that in Armenia, denominations other than the Armenian
Apostolic Church face legal restrictions and that an Azerbaijani law
forbidding religious proselytizing by foreigners is discriminatory and
leads to harassment of Christians.

GAZPROM RESTORES SHIPMENTS TO BELARUS. The Russian gas
company Gazprom on 22 July announced it is restoring full gas
shipments to Belarus after reaching a deal with Minsk on repaying
debts amounting to $125 million, Interfax reported. Gazprom
recently cut deliveries by half to force Belarus to pay its debts. After
talks in Moscow on 22 July, Belarusian government officials agreed to
pay the debts and Gazprom to return shipments to normal levels.
Interfax quoted a Gazprom official as saying Belarus agreed to pay
30 percent of the debts in cash and the remainder through barter
and other means. Meanwhile, Gazprom began reducing supplies to
Ukraine on 22 July in an effort to force it to pay more than $300
million in debts.

JOURNALISTS DETAINED BY BELARUSIAN BORDER GUARD. Belarusian
border guards on 22 July detained a Belarusian camera team
working for Russia's ORT television network. The journalists were
detained on the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, Interfax reported. The
crew included ORT's Minsk bureau chief Pavel Sheremet, a
cameraman, and a driver. They were detained while shooting footage
on the activities of Belarus border guards. A spokesperson for the
Belarusian State Border Committee said Sheremet had applied for
permission to shoot footage on the border and was given approval
for this fall. He had decided, however, to film now without
permission. A report has been filed stating that the journalists
violated laws on protecting the border area. The men have since
been released and have returned to Minsk. Sheremet was recently
stripped of his accreditation for Belarus.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DISMISSES PROSECUTOR-GENERAL. Leonid
Kuchma signed a decree on 22 July dismissing Prosecutor-General
Hryhory Vorsinov. A presidential spokeswoman told journalists that
retirement was given as the reason for relieving Vorsinov. She also
said Kuchma has appointed Oleh Lytvak as acting prosecutor-general.
Vorsinov, 61, was considered an ally of former Prime Minister Pavlo
Lazarenko, who quit recently citing health problems. Until now,
Lytvak has headed the National Bureau of Investigation, a recently
created body to fight widespread corruption and organized crime.
Lytvak was previously Kuchma's top legal adviser.

UKRAINIAN TO BE ONLY OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IN UKRAINE?
Ukrainian deputy Vladimir Alexeyev told a news conference in
Simferopol, Crimea, on 22 July that the Ukrainian government and
the president's office have submitted a bill to the parliament under
which Ukrainian would become the only official language in Ukraine,
Russian news agency RIA reported. The bill proclaims Ukrainian as
the only official language in all social spheres throughout the
country, including the autonomous region of Crimea. All civil
servants and other persons speaking languages other than Ukrainian
in public offices will be fined. Alexeyev said "this coercive promotion
of the Ukrainian language amounts to discrimination against citizens
of many nationalities" in Ukraine. Opposition parliamentary groups
have prepared an alternative bill, but the government version is
more likely to be passed, Alexeyev noted.

ESTONIA REFUSES RESIDENCE PERMITS TO NINE RUSSIAN RESERVE
OFFICERS. Economics Minister Jaak Leimann announced on 22 July
that the government has refused residence permits to nine Russian
reserve officers and their families, ETA reported. The men are all
former Soviet officers who are married to Estonian citizens and
remained in Estonia after Soviet troops withdrew from the country.
Leimann said they were not granted permits because they "could be
called to active duty for Russia." Tallinn perceives this "as a danger to
the security of Estonia," he added. One of the officers, Sergeii
Miroshnitshenko, was previously refused a permit, but a court
overruled that decision because his name had been misspelled. The
government corrected the mistake and compiled a lengthy file on
Miroshnitshenko, noting that he received training in Soviet
ideological propaganda and is reported to have recently made anti-
Estonian remarks to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe representative in Tallinn.

LATVIAN PRESIDENT SUPPORTS PREMIER AMID GOVERNMENT
CRISIS. Guntis Ulmanis on 22 July expressed his support for Premier
Andris Skele, who earlier had announced a plan to resolve the
government crisis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 July 1997), BNS
reported. Ulmanis said he believes Skele's government "should
continue the work it started until the [October 1998] parliamentary
elections." He added that the crisis threatened the country's reforms
and its bids to join NATO and the EU. Besides drawing up a timetable
to fill the five ministerial vacancies, Skele proposed the ruling parties
meet soon to discuss the EU Commission's recommendation that six
countries be invited to begin accession talks, RFE/RL's Latvian
Service reported. He also proposed that within 10 days, the Foreign
Ministry and parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission present a
plan on how to improve the performance of Latvian diplomats and
that the minister for European affairs submit a detailed proposal on
how Latvian state institutions can better comply with EU
requirements.

VILNIUS POLICE LEADERS DISMISSED OVER BEATING OF FRENCH
DIPLOMAT. Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius has accepted the
resignation of Vilnius police chief Vytautas Leipus and approved the
dismissal of two of his deputies over the beating of a French
diplomat, BNS reported on 22 July. Three young men severely beat
and robbed Patric Donobedian, the 42-year-old cultural officer at the
French Embassy, not far from his home in the city's Old Town on 20
July. Donobedian remains in intensive care in a Vilnius hospital. The
assault was the latest in a series of incidents in the Lithuanian capital
in which diplomats and other foreigners have been attacked.
Vagnorius said the French diplomat's beating has "damaged the
state's prestige." Meanwhile, Interior Minister Vidmantas Ziemelis
has informed the premier of plans for a police operation to eliminate
criminal gangs from the city.

POLISH PREMIER APOLOGIZES FOR HIS REMARKS ON FLOOD
INSURANCE. Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz says he regrets telling Polish
flood victims they should have taken out insurance. In a statement
published in the press on 22 July, Cimoszewicz said his 8 July
comments had been inappropriate and had "above all aroused
understandable bitterness in the context of the scale of the rapidly
growing natural disaster." Critics have accused the government of
mismanaging flood relief. According to the latest estimates, the floods
have so far killed 60 people and swamped more than a thousand
towns and villages. Damage is estimated at billions of zlotys. Many
people, including small farmers, have lost their homes and
livelihoods. Most were not insured because, they say, they could not
afford to pay insurance premiums.

SLOVAK PRIME MINISTER RECEIVES LETTER FROM BRITISH
COUNTERPART. Tony Blair has said Britain is ready "to provide [to
Slovakia] whatever assistance we can to meet the standards required
for integration into Western structures." The British ambassador to
Slovakia handed a letter from Blair to Meciar on 22 July. Britain will
hold the rotating chairmanship of the EU as of January 1997, when
EU integration talks are scheduled to begin. Blair also wrote that he
believes that "the decisions taken by NATO in Madrid will enhance
the security not only of the alliance but of the whole of Europe." The
NATO summit in Madrid left Slovakia out of the first group of Central
European countries invited to NATO integration talks. In addition, the
European Commission did not recommend Slovakia as one of the
countries to begin EU integration talks because it is not seen as
meeting political conditions for EU membership.

SLOVAK GOVERNMENT SUPPORTS MECIAR'S CRITICISM OF US
AMBASSADOR. Spokeswoman Ludmila Bulakova told journalists in
Bratislava on 22 July that the government considers U.S. ambassador
Ralph Johnson's remarks of 14 July "inappropriate" and fully
supports Premier Meciar's stance. When asked whether the
government also identified with Meciar having compared Johnson to
former the Soviet ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the 1968
Warsaw Pact invasion, she replied, "Yes." Johnson, in a public lecture
in Bratislava, criticized the growing centralization of power in
Slovakia and intolerance toward people whose opinions differ from
those of the government. He also criticized the failure to solve
criminal cases that have a political background, including the 1995
abduction of President Michal Kovac's son. The president has
distanced himself from Meciar's attacks on Johnson (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 22 July 1997).

SECRET SERVICE MINISTER'S RESIGNATION DEMANDED IN HUNGARY.
Laszlo Koever, a member of the Alliance of Young Democrats and of
the parliament's National Security Committee, has demanded the
resignation of Secret Services Minister Istvan Nikolits and his chief of
staff Tamas Somogyi, on grounds of inefficiency, Hungarian media
reported on 22 July. The committee's report on the controversial
"Operation Birch Tree" concludes that the secret service collected
potentially damaging data on parliamentary members while
investigating organized crime by foreign groups. The report also
states that the Intelligence Office overstepped its authority but that
there was no indication that its staff intended to use the information
to discredit politicians. Committee chairman Imre Konya said he
voted in favor of the report, although Nikolits's political
responsibility is not made explicit in the document.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN SERB COURT BACKS PLAVSIC. The Constitutional Court of
the Republika Srpska met in Pale on 22 July and overruled the
cabinet's objections to President Biljana Plavsic's decision to dissolve
the parliament and call new elections. The court said the government
has no business interfering in matters that the constitution clearly
delegates to the president and to the legislature. Aside from the
army's luke-warm backing for Plavsic, the decision marks the first
time that a major institution of the Bosnian Serb state has taken the
side of the embattled president. The court must now rule on the
parliament's objections to Plavsic's decision dissolving the legislature
and calling elections, an RFE/RL correspondent in Pale reported.

U.S. GENERAL CALLS FOR NEW GUIDANCE FOR CATCHING WAR
CRIMINALS. Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Osterthaler said in
Washington on 22 July that British SFOR troops acted within their
mandate when they recently hunted down two Bosnian Serb war
criminals. The senior military official added, however, that all NATO
member states must agree on a "new political guidance" if the troops
are to go after major figures such as Radovan Karadzic. Meanwhile in
Bosnia, a grenade exploded outside the Brcko district office of Carlos
Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in
Bosnia.

MONTENEGRIN ELECTIONS SLATED FOR OCTOBER. Montenegrin
parliament speaker Svetozar Marovic has decided to call presidential
elections for 5 October, the independent news agency Montena-faks
reported from Podgorica on 22 July. Also in the Montenegrin capital,
the parliament continued discussions of the recent election of Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic to the federal Yugoslav presidency.
Most Montenegrin leaders charge that the election was rushed
through the federal parliament before the Montenegrin legislature
could discuss Milosevic's candidacy. Political observers say that
Milosevic forced the early vote precisely in order to head off
potential opposition from Podgorica. Milosevic was inaugurated on 23
July. The Montenegrin parliament also expressed its opposition to
Milosevic's proposed changes to the federal constitution, which are
aimed at strengthening his power over the republics.

U.S. FAVORS CONTINUED UN PRESENCE IN DISPUTED CROATIAN
PENINSULA. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson said in Skopje
on 22 July that Washington regards Macedonia "as a source of
regional stability." Earlier that day, he stated in Dubrovnik that UN
monitors should stay on in southern Croatia's Prevlaka peninsula
until Zagreb and Belgrade agree on its future. Prevlaka is Croatian
territory, but it offers access to Yugoslavia's only naval base, which is
located in Kotor Bay. President Tudjman has hinted that he would be
willing to swap the peninsula for Bosnian Serb territory near
Dubrovnik, but Croatian public opinion and the Bosnian federal
government strongly oppose such a deal.

TUDJMAN SACKS LEADING GENERALS. The Croatian Defense Ministry
on 22 July announced the retirement of three well-known generals--
Ante Roso, Djuro Decak, and Ivan Korade--as well as the transfer of
nine other top officers. No official reason was given for the changes.
Independent media said, however, that the ousted officers were
linked to war crimes or corruption and were sacrificed as part of
President Tudjman's efforts to promote Croatia's admission to NATO's
Partnership for Peace program. Since the Croatian armed forces were
set up in 1991, Tudjman has tried to raise them to NATO standards
of equipment, leadership, and training.

NEWS FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. A Vatican spokesman on 22 July
denied that the Holy See is holding Ustasha gold from World War II
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 July 1997). In Sarajevo, representatives
of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is
monitoring the Bosnian local elections slated for September, banned
from the ballot in Brcko the top three candidates of the Serbian
Democratic Party (SDS). This marks the second time that the OSCE has
punished the Serbs for manipulating voter registration lists in the
strategic north Bosnian town. The OSCE has forced Muslims and
Croats off the ballot elsewhere. And in Kosovo, Radio Pristina said
that storms have destroyed up to half the region's harvest.

LONG-RANGE MISSILES STOLEN IN ALBANIA. Top military officials
said in Gjirokaster on 22 July that unidentified persons stole some 15
surface-to-surface and surface-to-air Chinese Silkworm-type missiles
from an underground tunnel on 20 July. A Defense Ministry
spokesman said on Albanian TV that an investigation is under way.
An army commander told Reuters that "all the Kalashnikovs that
have been looted are nothing compared to this." Military officials said
they suspect that foreign or domestic "mafias" are behind the theft,
but the officials did not rule out political motives. Meanwhile in
Vlora, rival gangs fought on 21 July with anti-tank rockets, mortars,
and machine guns. Local residents fled to underground shelters.
News agencies said the fighting was the worst Vlora had seen since
anarchy broke out in March. The international community had hoped
that the June elections would end unrest.

ROMANIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF RESIGNS. Gen. Decebal
Ilina, chief of the Military Intelligence Service, announced at a press
conference in Bucharest on 22 July that he is resigning as of 1
August, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He said he has
completed four years in that post, adding that intelligence chiefs
should not serve for decades, as was the case before and during the
communist regime. Ilina rejected a recent statement by Premier
Victor Ciorbea, who said the country's secret services must undergo a
process of de-Sovietization. He said Romania's military intelligence
had cut any ties with Warsaw Pact countries intelligence services in
1962. There is speculation among Romanian media that Ilinca's
resignation is connected with the recent detention of a Swiss
diplomat under suspicion of spying for Romania.

ROMANIAN FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL UNDER
INVESTIGATION... Also on 22 July, Radio Bucharest reported that
Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) Gen. Dumitru Ciobanu, a former
deputy director of the service, is under investigation by the military
section of the Prosecutor-General's Office. He is suspected of having
leaked secret information to unauthorized sources. The independent
news agency AR-press says Ciobanu may be "a scapegoat" for SIE
chief Ioan Talpes, who, according to as yet unconfirmed reports, has
resigned and will be replaced by presidential counselor Catalin
Harnagea. The same agency reports that the military section is
investigating allegations that Talpes received $50,000 to use his
influence for facilitating a bank loan to the former ruling party, the
Party of Social Democracy in Romania.

...WHILE INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL'S APPOINTMENT REVOKED. Acting
on instructions from President Emil Constantinescu, Costin Georgescu,
the director of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), has revoked
the appointment of Col. Gheorghe Atudoroaie as SRI chief for western
Romania. Atudoroaie was acquitted by a Timisoara court for
involvement in the reprisals against the anti-communist uprising in
December 1989 in Timisoara. He had served in that city as deputy
chief of the Securitate, the communist-era secret service.

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY UPDATE. In a declaration issued on 22
July, the 11 parliamentary deputies who quit the Democratic
Agrarian Party of Moldova (PDAM) said that the party has "diverged"
from the platform that ensured its election victory in the 1994
elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 July 1997). They also said that
the dismissal of Dumitru Diacov as parliamentary deputy chairman
was an "act of revenge" for his and other PDAM deputies' support of
President Petru Lucinschi rather than Andrei Sangheli, the PDAM
candidate in the presidential December 1996 elections. They
explained that they did not back Sangheli because he had
"discredited" the PDAM. They also noted that Diacov's dismissal
demonstrates the PDAM faction's opposition to the reforms promoted
by Lucinschi, according to RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau. Valentin
Dolganiuc, the leader of the opposition Christian Democratic Popular
Front, called the resignation of the 11 PDAM deputies "a political
farce," Infotag reported.

RUSSIA OPPOSES UKRAINIAN OBSERVERS IN TRANSDNIESTER.
Vladimir Ustinov, the Russian representative on the Joint Control
Commission (JCC) in the Transdniester breakaway region, told the
commission on 22 July that the military units in the security zone
should be "gradually reduced" rather than bolstered by more
observers. Ustinov made the remarks in connection with the possible
arrival of Ukrainian peace keepers in the region. But Moldovan
representative Vasile Sova said the arrival of the Ukrainian
observers did not mean that Kyiv would be represented in the region
by large military contingents, BASA-press reported. Rather, their
presence was part and parcel of Ukraine's role as a mediator in the
peace-keeping process.


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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
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