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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 90, Part II, 7 August1997



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 AUTHORITIES CHARGE THIRD MEMBER OF ORT CREW

* WORLD BANK ADVISES POLAND ON EU MEMBERSHIP

* IMF SETS DOWN TERMS FOR ALBANIAN AID

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

Belarusian authorities on 6 August filed charges of illegally entering
Belarus against the driver of a Russian television crew, RFE/RL's
correspondent in Minsk reported. Yaroslav Ovchinnikov is part of an
ORT news team that was detained late last month on charges they
illegally crossed the Belarusian border from neighboring Lithuania.
An ORT reporter and his cameraman have already been formally
charged. Ovchinnikov was released from detention on 6 August after
signing a pledge not to leave the country. Belarusian KGB spokesman
Col. Gennady Sinyukov told journalists that Ovchinnikov was charged
with complicity in violating the country's border and still faces up to
five years in prison if convicted.

UKRAINE SIGNS IMF COOPERATION MEMORANDUM. Ukrainian Prime
Minister Valery Pustovoitenko and Ukrainian National Bank
Chairman Viktor Yushchenko on 6 August signed a cooperation
memorandum with the IMF, Interfax reported. The memorandum
was sent to the IMF the same day. The IMF board of directors will
discuss a $525 million standby loan to Ukraine on 25 August. The
loan will be provided over a period from July 1997 through July
1998, with the first IMF inspection scheduled for November.
Ukrainian officials hope the standby loan program may be
transformed into an Extended Fund Facility program later this year.
The IMF has made such a change conditional on accelerating reforms
in Ukraine. The approval of the Extended Fund Facility program
would give Ukraine a chance to resume talks on World Bank loans.

UKRAINE'S CHANGE OF VISA RULES CAUSES CONFUSION. Mykola
Lesnikovsky, chief of the Kyiv international airport's consular
department, told journalists on 6 August that dozens of foreign
visitors have been sent back to their home countries from the airport
in recent days after Ukraine tightened its rules for issuing visas. He
said that visas previously were available to arriving passengers at
the airport. But as of 1 August, the only people allowed to obtain
visas at the airport have been citizens of countries where Ukraine
has no embassy. He said visitors from countries where Ukraine does
have an embassy have been turned back at the airport. Several of
the people turned away were from the U.S. Ukraine's Foreign
Ministry adopted the new policy in 1993, but it was only put into
force on 1 August

ESTONIA SECRETLY BOUGHT KGB FILES. The Estonian security police
five years ago secretly bought files on some 500 KGB agents,
"Postimees" reported on 6 August. The Estonian authorities managed
to buy KGB agent files or their copies in the summer of 1992. They
refuse to say who the source was. "What exactly (was obtained) and
how the Estonian authorities obtained those documents I cannot
comment," director of the Defense Police Juri Pihl told the newspaper.
He said the files did not name any senior Estonian state officials as
agents. "I can only confirm this one thing: the defense police has no
KGB materials that would place anybody's oath of conscience under
doubt," Pihl said. Estonia requires its MPs and senior state officials to
take a so-called oath of conscience in which they swear that they did
not collaborate with the KGB or other intelligence agencies of
countries that occupied Estonia.

NEW LATVIAN GOVERNMENT SAYS EU IS PRIORITY. Latvian Foreign
Minister Valdis Birkavs told Reuters on 6 August that Latvia's
incoming government would work to ensure that Latvia meets EU
criteria so it is asked to start membership talks by an EU summit in
December. The summit will decide on new members. He also said the
country will accelerate economic reforms. The European Commission
in July said Latvia was not ready to start early talks on EU entry. Of
the Baltic states, only Estonia was chosen by the Commission to begin
early talks. Birkavs also said the new government would complete
privatization by the middle of next year and stick to tough monetary
policies. The previous government collapsed after outgoing Prime
Minister Andris Shkele quarrelled with his coalition partners. A
parliamentary vote to confirm the new government is to be held on 7
August.

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS INVESTIGATION INTO JEWISH
DESECRATION. Algirdas Brazauskas on 6 August ordered police to
investigate the desecration of a Jewish monument in the capital of
Vilnius. It was the second such act of vandalism in a month. BNS
reported that in the most recent case, authorities discovered on 6
August that a monument marking the site of Vilnius' oldest Jewish
cemetery had been covered with graffiti and painted with swastikas.
In a statement, Brazauskas called the desecration a "shameful act
undermining the prestige of our state." He called for better care of
the Jewish cultural heritage in Lithuania. In July, a memorial stone
marking the site of the Vilnius ghetto was removed by vandals.

WORLD BANK ADVISES POLAND ON EU MEMBERSHIP. The World
Bank has given Poland a list of steps the country needs to take if it
wants to become a full-fledged member of the European Union. In a
report published in Polish media on 6 August, the bank advises a 6
percent reduction in public expenditures, which currently stand at
48 percent of the GDP and improved conditions for investment. The
report says that to lower public expenditure, Poland must reform its
pension system, privatize and restructure state-owned enterprises
and banks, and "introduce regulatory reforms to increase private
sector and foreign participation in infrastructure development." In
addition, the World Bank suggests cutting income tax, which would
be compensated by the scrapping of preferential Value Added Tax
rates and improved tax administration. The report also advises
Poland to eliminate "bureaucratic micro-management still dominant
in some areas of imports" and to introduce "comprehensive judicial
reforms.

POLISH PARTIES ON COALITION CRISIS. The co-ruling Polish Peasant
Party (PSL) wants the government's Agriculture Market Agency to
pay in advance for cereals bought from farmers. But Prime Minister
Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz refused to discuss the demands at the
cabinet meeting on 5 August, leading to a coalition crisis (RFE/RL
Newsline 5 August). Co-ruling Social Democracy of the Republic of
Poland (SdRP) leader Jozef Oleksy said on 6 August that buying
cereals is not a matter of contention., but the PSL's position on the
matter may be an attempt to win peasants' votes. The leader of the
opposition centrist Freedom Union Leszek Balcerowicz called the
PSL's proposal to remove Cimoszewicz "a tasteless pre-electoral
maneuver." Labor Union leader Ryszard Bugaj called changing the
prime minister two months before the elections irresponsible.

POLISH ARISTOCRATS CLAIM OWNERSHIP OF U.S. EMBASSY LAND.
More than 70 members of an old Polish aristocratic family gathered
outside the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw on 7 August claiming ownership
to the land on which the embassy stands. Members of the
Czetwertynski family say the land was confiscated by the communist
regime after World War Two and then leased--illegally, they
maintain-- to the United States. The palace of the late Princess Roza
Czetwertynska stood on the site until 1960, when the United States
tore it down to build the embassy. After War World Two, the Polish
communist government leased the property to the United States for
80 years. The U.S. embassy issued a statement today saying their
lease was valid, and that the dispute is between the family and the
Polish government.

UPDATE ON LOST CZECH INTELLIGENCE DATA. The daily "Pravo"
wrote on 7 August that Internal Affairs Ministry spokesman Jan
Subrt has confirmed that the data contained in a portable computer
stolen last week from an agent of The Bureau for Foreign Contacts
and Information (UZSI), one of the three top Czech intelligence
agencies, were rated "secret." (see RFE/RL Newsline, 5 August 1997).
The spokesman said, however, the security of the Czech Republic was
not compromised by the theft. "Lidove noviny" on 7 August quoted
Subrt as saying that the sudden emergence of the affair in the media
could be "an intentional provocation" aimed at compromising the
Czech Republic after it was recently invited to join NATO. Some
government officials have agreed with this hypothesis. Meanwhile,
some opposition politicians have demanded Ruml's resignation over
his failure to inform the parliament and the government about the
incident.

U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION URGES RENEWAL OF SLOVAK
POLITICIAN'S MANDATE. The U.S. Commission on Security and
Cooperation in Europe has called on Slovak Parliament Chairman
Ivan Gasparovic to take the lead in restoring the mandate of former
deputy Frantisek Gaulieder, RFE/RL's Washington correspondent
reported on 6 August. Gaulieder was stripped of his seat in December
1996 after he left Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a
Democratic Slovakia. The Slovak Constitutional Court has ruled that
Gaulieder's removal was unconstitutional. In a letter to Gasparovic,
the U.S. commission said the Slovak parliament's response to the
court ruling will either provide more evidence that Slovakia is not
committed to the rule of law, or, that it has taken a step away from
isolation and toward rejoining the community of democratic nations.
Meanwhile, German Ambassador to Slovakia Ludger Buerstedde
stressed during a meeting on 6 August with Slovak Parliament
Foreign Committee Chairman Dusan Slobodnik that the parliament
should restore Gaulieder's mandate, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau
reported.

HUNGARIAN DEPUTY RESIGNS OVER SECRET SERVICE LINKS. Socialist
deputy Imre Simon said on 6 August he will give up his
parliamentary seat on account of his collaboration with the secret
service during communism, Hungarian media reported. Simon, who is
also a local government leader and member of the European
Parliament, was told by a panel of judges in June that they had found
data on his collaboration with the communist secret service. Simon
said he had been recruited in 1966 after his military service, before
starting to pursue higher education studies. Socialist party deputy
chairman Gyoergy Janosi said the announcement surprised him. The
Socialist party's parliamentary faction and the party's leadership will
discuss the matter.

HUNGARIAN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL REJECTS GYPSY
COMPENSATION PLAN. The chairman of the parliament's Human
Rights, Minorities and Religious Affairs Committee, Gabor Kis Gellert,
opposes the idea of collective compensation for Hungarian Gypsies
who suffered under the Holocaust, Hungarian media reported on 7
August. According to the Socialist deputy, such a solution, demanded
recently by the National Gypsy Minority Council (See "RFE/RL
Newsline," 4 August 1997), would be unprecedented in Hungarian
history. He said he would prefer a case-by-case compensation, like
that given to other Holocaust survivors


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE


IMF SETS DOWN TERMS FOR ALBANIAN AID. The IMF will provide
emergency assistance for Albania, but long-term aid will depend on
whether the Albanian government meets certain conditions, news
agencies reported from Washington on 6 August. The IMF insists that
the authorities restore security, consolidate their control over all
parts of the country, close down the pyramid schemes, establish
satisfactory tax records, and cut the budget deficit. An IMF
spokesman said that plans to help Albania have been worked out
and that an IMF delegation will go to Tirana in the coming weeks. In
the Albanian capital, Finance Minister Arben Malaj expressed
appreciation for the proposed package. He added that "after Bosnia
and Georgia, we are the third country in IMF history to benefit from
such a program, and it is vital to convince foreign investors to invest
in Albania."

POLITICAL HOUSE-CLEANING IN ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT...
President Rexhep Mejdani sacked Ilir Zhilla as head of the state-run
ATA news agency on 5 August and replaced him with independent
journalist Frrok Cupi. The next day, however, Cupi refused the
political appointment. Justice Minister Thimio Kondi told department
chiefs in his ministry to resign voluntarily or be fired, "Albania"
reported on 6 August. On 4 August, Defense Minister Sabit Brokaj
had similarly warned unnamed top-ranking officers appointed by
the previous government to resign lest they be fired and put on trial
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August 1997). But on 5 August, army
Chief-of-Staff General Adem Copani held talks in Tirana with visiting
Greek officials and concluded an agreement on Greek aid to the
Albanian military. Copani was appointed by former President Sali
Berisha.

...AND IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. The National Council of the
Democratic Party met in Tirana on 5 August to fire some leaders as
scapegoats for the party's disastrous defeat in the June vote. Victims
include former party Chairman Tritan Shehu and former Prime
Minister Aleksander Meksi, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Meksi
blasted the decisions of the secret meeting and compared the
National Council's methods to those of the late communist dictator
Enver Hoxha's Party of Labor. Meksi was a founding member of the
Democrats in 1991. Most of the other founders also have since parted
ways from Berisha.

ALBANIAN POLICE REPORT SUCCESS IN TIGHTENING SECURITY. Police
officials in the southern town of Saranda, opposite the Greek island of
Corfu, told ATA on 6 April that they have secured two important
roads leading out of the town.. Police said they were able to break
the power of armed gangs along the Saranda-Muzina road toward the
seashore and the Saranda-Borsh toward Vlora despite the fact that
the police lack basic equipment and vehicles. Buses left Saranda for
Tirana and elsewhere for the first time in four months. And in Vlora,
police reported a limited but growing number of phone calls from
citizens wanting to turn in illegally held weapons. The police
reported that callers say they do not need guns if the police can
restore order. Weapons collections depots are now operating around
the clock.

HOLBROOKE CONFERS WITH TOP MILITARY IN BOSNIA. Richard
Holbrooke, the former U.S. envoy who hammered out the Dayton
peace agreement in 1995, began the second day of his latest Balkan
trip by meeting on 7 August in Tuzla with U.S. Gen. John
Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. General
Wesley Clark, NATO's supreme military commander. There were no
official reports of what the men discussed, but Holbrooke wants to
arrest indicted war criminals such as Radovan Karadzic. The NATO
troops, for their part, would be an essential part of any operation to
catch Karadzic and send him to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal.
After his meeting in Tuzla, Holbrooke went on to Sarajevo to meet
with the members of the three-man joint presidency. A U.S.
spokesman said that "bad flying weather" forced Holbrooke to
postpone a meeting with Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic
in Banja Luka.

BOSNIAN AND CROATIAN PRESIDENTS PLEDGE TO ENFORCE DAYTON
AGREEMENT. Holbrooke met in Split on 6 August with Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman and his Bosnian counterpart Alija
Izetbegovic. The U.S. diplomat secured pledges from the two
presidents to allow all refugees from the Jajce area to go home by 12
August and to bring to justice by 17 August those responsible for
recent incidents against Muslim refugees (see "RFE/RL Bosnia
Report," 6 August 1997). More border crossings are to be opened,
while proper frontier checks will be set up on the often uncontrolled
border between Croatia and Herzegovinian Croat territory. Meeting
alone, the presidents also agreed to launch talks on Bosnia's use of
the Croatian port of Ploce and on Croatia's transit rights through
Bosnia's tiny stretch of the Adriatic coast. The future agreement also
will cover property rights and dual citizenship, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Split. The two sides have been trying to
solve these questions for years.

MORE TORCHINGS NEAR JAJCE. Spokesmen for NATO peacekeepers
said in Sarajevo on 6 August that seven more Muslim-owned homes
were burned near Jajce the previous night. Meanwhile in Banja Luka,
Plavsic announced on 7 August that elections to the Republika Srpska
parliament will take place on 10-12 October. Her political rivals do
not recognize her recent dissolution of the existing parliament,
however. And in Munich, the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" reported that
Karadzic told that paper that he is ready to stand trial for war crimes
provided the trial is held in the Republika Srpska. Western officials
said, however, that Karadzic must go to The Hague. According to an
agreement Karadzic reached with international mediators last year,
he is not supposed to take any part in public life, which includes
giving interviews. His latest remarks appear to be a response to
Holbrooke's demands for Karadzic's arrest.

MONTENEGRO SAYS SERBIA HAS IMPOSED "ECONOMIC BLOCKADE."
Montenegrin Trade Minister Branko Vujovic said in Podgorica on 7
August that Serbia has put the mountainous republic under an
"economic blockade." Vujovic added that this is Serbia's way of
"punishing" the Montenegrin leadership for its increasing
independence vis-a-vis Belgrade. Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic
and other top officials have in recent months slammed Belgrade's
policies as harmful to Montenegro's interests. The small republic is
dependent on shipping and tourism, and has accordingly suffered
because of federal Yugoslavia's international isolation. On 6 August,
supporters of pro-Belgrade President Momir Bulatovic held a break-
away party congress of the governing Democratic Socialist Party in
Kolasin. The meeting underscored the growing split in the party, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from that town. The main party
organization backs Djukanovic and has removed Bulatovic from the
party presidency. In Belgrade, the opposition Serbian Renewal
Movement criticized the government's attempts to "pressure"
Montenegro.

IMF PRAISES ROMANIA'S REVISED BUDGET. The chief IMF negotiator
for Romania, Poul Thomsen, is praising the restructured Romanian
budget but adds that more effort is necessary to liquidate loss-
making industries and state farms, Reuters reported. While
announcing an agreement to extend the country's external debt
ceiling by $500 million to $3.7 billion, Thomsen sidestepped
questions on whether he would recommend to the IMF board to
release the second $86 million installment of the standby credit
agreed to last April. On the same day, Thomsen met Premier Victor
Ciorbea, who then headed another meeting of the government on the
budget and postponed a scheduled press conference for one day.
Finance Minister Mircea Ciumara met with representatives of the
World Bank. In an interview with RFE/RL, Minister of Reforms Ulm
Spineanu said he had submitted a "blank resignation" to Ciorbea. He
said he intends to activate the resignation if his program for reforms
is not implemented.

ROYAL VISIT MARRED BY BOMB THREAT. An anonymous telephone
call caused the cancellation of a scheduled visit by Romania's former
king to a market in the Transylvanian town of Oradea, Mediafax
reported on 6 August. The anonymous caller threatened to blow up
the city hall and a local church unless the former king's visit to the
town was cancelled. The mayoralty decided to go on with the visit
plans, but cancelled the visit to the market. King Michael is on a
private visit to western Romania. The trip began on 3 August in
Timisoara.

OSCE MISSION TO MOLDOVA PROPOSES SHRINKING SECURITY ZONE.
The head of the OSCE mission to Moldova, Donald Johnson, says the
security zone dividing the two conflicting sides should be shrunk,
transforming its northern and southern sectors into demilitarized
zones. In an article published in "Mirotvorets," Johnson says
checkpoints in the zone should be reduced to enhance mutual
confidence. He said the presence of pro-Chisinau "border guards" and
pro-Tiraspol "Cossacks" in the demilitarized zone violated the 1992
agreement on setting up the zone and they should leave, BASA-press
reported. In other news, the deputy commander of the Russian
"Operative Group" in the Transdniester, Col. Aleksandr Baranov,
denied a report on the delay of the evacuation of Russian equipment
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 August 1997). He said no decision on the
evacuation has yet been taken, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported.

MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT READY TO RECOGNIZE BESSARABIAN
CHURCH. A representative of the government on 6 August told the
Chisinau Court of Appeals that the government was now ready to
extend official recognition to the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church
(BMB), which is subordinated to the Bucharest Romanian Orthodox
Patriarchate. The government had refused recognition of the church
for five years, recognizing only the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which
is subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate. The court was about to
rule on litigation between the government and the BMB and the
government had appealed against a decision of the Chisinau Tribunal
recognizing the BMB. The government representative said official
recognition would be extended on 13 August, BASA-press reported.

BULGARIA'S SOCIALISTS TO APPEAL AGAINST OPENING OF FILES.
Bulgaria's main opposition Socialist Party plans to appeal to the
Constitutional Court against the new law on the opening of
communist era secret police files, Reuters reported on 6 August. A
spokeswoman for the Socialists said the law contravenes the
constitution, violates citizens' rights and harms national security.

BULGARIA'S RIVAL MOSLEM COUNCILS PLAN UNIFICATION. Nadim
Gendzhev and Fikri Sali, the heads of the two rival Moslem Councils
(the High Moslem Council and the High Spiritual Council), on 6 August
signed a declaration agreeing to hold a joint conference and unify the
councils, Reuters reported. In March 1995, more than 1,000 Moslems
at a special national conference voted to restore Sali as Chief Mufti, a
position he held from 1992 to November 1994, when Gendzhev (first
appointed Chief Mufti in 1988, under the Todor Zhivkov regime)
replaced him. The vote followed allegations that Gendzhev had
worked for the communist secret services. The Socialist government,
however, refused registration on grounds that a registered Moslem
council already existed. Sali has repeatedly urged the country's new
rulers to reverse that decision.




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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
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