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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 91, Part II, 8 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

*NEW LATVIAN GOVERNMENT CONFIRMED BY PARLIAMENT


*STOLEN MISSILES FOUND IN ALBANIA


*ROMANIAN LABOR PROTEST


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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

SUPPORT FOR BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT HIGH. A poll conducted by the
Minsk-based Independent Institute for Social, Economic and Political
Research indicates that more than 45 percent of Belarusian voters
would vote for incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka if the
presidential elections were held now, Interfax reported on 7 August.
More than half of the respondents said they hoped Lukashenka
would take the country out of the economic crisis. Some 3.5 percent
of respondents said they wanted to see former Parliamentary
Chairman Stanislau Shushkevich as president.

RUSSIA CRITICAL OF NAVAL EXERCISES IN BLACK SEA. Russian
Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said in Moscow on 7 August that
Russia will not take part in international naval exercises which will
be held later this month in the Black Sea on Ukraine's initiative, Itar-
Tass reported. The exercises, called Sea Breeze-97, are scheduled to
be held off Crimea's coast. They will involve ships from Ukraine, the
U.S. and other countries. Russia has repeatedly criticized the
exercises in the past. Sergeyev said the Russian military does not
understand the aim and tasks of these exercises. Nevertheless,
Sergeyev also said he has a positive attitude to joint undertakings by
the navies of Russia and Ukraine. He said Russia and Ukraine have
decided to conduct their own joint naval exercises, which he said
would have "a peace-keeping character."

NEW LATVIAN GOVERNMENT CONFIRMED BY PARLIAMENT. The
government of new Latvian Prime Minister Guntar Krasts was
formally voted into power by parliament on 7 August, BNS reported.
Krasts leads a six-party coalition that ranges from nationalists to left-
of-center parties. His government was supported by 73 deputies in
the 100-seat parliament; his coalition has 67 seats. Krasts, economy
minister in the previous government, said he would stick to the strict
monetary and budget policies of former Prime Minister Andris
Shkele. He also has vowed to accelerate economic reforms and strive
for Latvia's membership in the European Union and NATO.

LATVIA PROTESTS RUSSIAN TAX AUTHORITIES' ACTIONS. Einar
Repshe, the president of the Bank of Latvia, told journalists on 7
August that the activities of St. Petersburg tax police might
negatively affect Russian-Latvian economic relations. His comments
came after the police froze the accounts of 14 Baltic banks, including
eight from Latvia. Viktor Kononov, a Russian tax police official told
journalists on 7 August that the 14 Baltic banks failed to pay value
added taxes amounting to some 200 billion rubles to the Russian
federal budget. Theodoras Tveriyonas, Latvia's Chairman of the
Association of Commercial Banks, said on 7 August that it is "absurd"
to suspend payment transactions from accounts of Latvian banks
because of non-paid taxes He said the value added tax should be paid
by bank customers, rather than by the banks. The Latvia Foreign
Ministry has asked the Russian Foreign Ministry for an explanation.

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT WANTS REGULAR NEIGHBOR SUMMITS.
Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas told journalists on 7
August that he would like next month's conference organized by the
Lithuanian and Polish presidents to turn into "a regular event." The
presidents of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Belarus, and the
Russian prime minister are to take part in the 5-6 September
conference in Vilnius. The conference is titled "Coexistence of Nations
and Good Neighborly Relations as a Guarantor of Security and
Stability in Europe." Brazauskas met with the organizing committee
for the conference on 7 August. Petras Vaitiekunas, foreign policy
adviser to the Lithuanian president, told BNS that the idea of
adopting a joint declaration at the conference "has been given up." He
said only very general and "empty" phrases could be included in
such a communique because of the different stances of the
participating states on many issues.

SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER IN POLAND. Goran Persson on 7 August
visited Poland's devastated southwestern regions to determine how
his country can help in reconstruction after the recent floods. A
Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman told journalists Persson wanted
first-hand information on the situation. Persson flew by helicopter to
flood-hit provinces of Walbrzych and Opole to inspect the scope of
damage. He was accompanied by Polish Prime Minister Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz.

POLISH TV BOARD NAMING SURROUNDED BY CONTROVERSY. Poland's
National Radio and Television Council (KRRiT), the electronic media
watchdog, on 7 August appointed seven people linked to ruling
coalition political parties to public television's new supervisory
board. The move raised concern over news media freedom before
next month's parliamentary elections, Reuter reported. "People
connected to the ruling coalition have a seven-person controlling
package and can do what they want. This does not augur well," said
KRRiT head Boleslaw Sulik. Sulik, linked to the opposition, was
outvoted by KRRiT members allied with government parties. Allies of
the ruling parties also were appointed to the supervisory board of
public radio. The board of public television appoints the management
and shapes program policies.

ANOTHER CZECH COALITION ROW IN THE OFFING. The Christian
Democratic Union (KDU-CSL), one of the three Czech government
parties, on 7 August sent a letter to Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec,
who is a member of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic
Party. In the letter, the KDU-CSL asked the foreign ministry to
explain why it has refused offers of foreign aid from abroad in the
wake of recent catastrophic floods. The letter was sent by Parliament
foreign chairman Josef Holan of the KDU-CSL. The third coalition
party, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA), said on 7 August that it
considers the KDU-CSL's request for an explanation to be "justified."
The government's chief representative for flood relief, Environment
Minister Jiri Skalicky of the ODA, on 7 August rejected a claim by a
foreign ministry spokesman that he was in charge of deciding about
using various offers of aid. Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Winkler told
journalists on 7 August that his ministry registered and positively
reacted to all such offers.

CZECH BANK LODGES COMPLAINT AGAINST SLOVAKIA. The daily
"Pravo" reported on 7 August that the first Czech-Slovak court
dispute since the division of the Czechoslovak Federation in 1993 will
begin in the international arbitration court in Washington. The
Czechoslovak Commercial Bank (CSOB), two-thirds of which are
owned by the Czech state, has lodged a complaint against the Slovak
Republic for its failure to repay the bank a debt of approximately 11
billion crowns of the Slovak Inkasni bank, which was guaranteed by
the Slovak Finance Ministry four years ago. The Washington court
has already called on both sides to name their representatives to a
three-member senate of arbitrators. The court proceedings in
Washington could last up to two years. The dispute could be handed
over to the International Court of Justice in the Hague if Slovakia
does not comply with a court ruling.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT, CZECH SENATE CHAIRMAN MEET. Slovak
President Michal Kovac and Czech Senate Chairman Petr Pithart met
at the Strbske Pleso holiday resort in the High Tatra mountains on 7
August, to discuss the situation in the two countries. No details of
their discussion were released to the press. They agreed to meet
again next week, the Czech Senate press office told CTK. Kovac and
Pithart are both spending their holidays in the Slovak mountains.

HUNGARIAN POLITICIANS' FUTURE TROUBLED BY PhD
DISSERTATION? Data protection commissioner Laszlo Majtenyi ruled
that doctoral dissertations of Prime Minister Gyula Horn and
Independent Smallholders' Party chairman Jozsef Torgyan should be
made available to the general public, Hungarian media reported on 8
August. Journalists who sought access to the texts were refused by
the Academy of Sciences. Horn said he has no objection, and that he
is "standing by" his 1977 dissertation on Yugoslav economic policy.
Torgyan's dissertation, written in 1954, deals with the post World
War II peace treaties, and praises the "extremely generous attitude
displayed by the Soviet Union regarding reparations to be paid by
Hungary." It stresses that contrary to "treaty-breaching imperialists,"
the Soviet Union fought to establish a fair burden for small states.
Smallholder adviser Andras Varhelyi said the attempt to discredit
Torgyan is part of a "disgusting political campaign."


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

STOLEN MISSILES FOUND IN ALBANIA. Albanian police and army
experts on 7 August found some 15 stolen surface-to-surface and
surface-to-air Chinese Silkworm-type missiles in Lazarat near
Gjirokaster. The police know who stole the missiles from an
underground tunnel on 20 July and are on the thieves' trail (see
"RFE/RL Newsline, 23 July 1997). Defense Minister Sabit Brokaj said
in Tirana that the crooks planned to dismantle the missiles and sell
them in Greece, but that increased security along the border
thwarted their plans.

GANG WAR RAGES IN VLORA. Some 100 masked gunmen paraded
down Vlora's main street in military vehicles and shot in the air in a
show of force on 7 August. A gun battle with a rival gang ensued,
sending ordinary citizens fleeing to their homes for cover. Two
members of one gang were wounded. Fellow gang members sealed
off the hospital where the two were taken lest the rival gang try to
take revenge on the wounded men. Interior Minister Neritan Ceka
said on 6 August in Tirana that a special police force has gone to
Vlora to collect information on the gangs.

CLINTON PLEDGES HELP FOR ALBANIA. U.S. President Bill Clinton has
sent Prime Minister Fatos Nano a letter in which he promises to back
the reconstruction and democratization of Albania, news agencies
reported from Tirana on 7 August. Clinton wrote that "the United
States and our partners in the international community are ready to
assist your government in its pursuit of meaningful political and
economic reform necessary to restore normal conditions in your
country. Your pledge to include the broad spectrum of political forces
in the governing process is very encouraging in light of the political
polarization that has afflicted your society. The civil unrest and
economic uncertainty affecting your country present your
government with a tremendous task."

KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR
SHOOTINGS. The clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) issued a
statement in Pristina on 7 August in which it said it carried out the
recent shootings of two Serbian policemen and an ethnic Albanian
close to the Serbian authorities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August
1997). The statement added that the UCK "will continue with actions
until the complete liberation of the ethnic [Albanian] territories" is
achieved. It warned the international community not to wait and
react "too late, after the massacre that threatens the Balkans." Up
until late 1996, the UCK carried out only occasional and random
attacks, such as spraying Serbian cafes with gunfire.

HALF A LOAF FOR HOLBROOKE. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke met in
Lukavica on Bosnian Serb territory on 7 August with the three
members of the Bosnian joint presidency: the Muslim Alija
Izetbegovic, the Croat Kresimir Zubak, and the Serb Momcilo
Krajisnik. Holbrooke secured agreements to reestablish a joint
telephone system and to authorize new ambassadorial appointments,
but failed to secure one on war criminals or refugees. The
ambassadors will include 13 Muslims, 11 Serbs and eight Croats, plus
one joint appointment by Izetbegovic and Zubak. The U.N. posting
goes to a Muslim, Washington to a Serb, and Tokyo to a Croat. But
even if the new ambassadors take up their posts, the three sides do
not have a common foreign policy for them to implement. Holbrooke
promised sanctions and other punishments for those who do not help
enforce the Dayton agreement.

SERBIAN REFUGEES APPEAL TO HOLBROOKE. The Belgrade-based
Society for Refugee Assistance wrote to Holbrooke on 7 August to
appeal for a permanent solution to their plight, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. The refugees say
they need both money and the strict implementation of the Dayton
agreement, which would enable them to go home. At the start of the
decade, Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic incited the Serbs of
Croatia and Bosnia to go to war with their neighbors so that the Serbs
could "remain in Yugoslavia." He refuses, however, to give Serbian
refugees from those two republics Yugoslav citizenship or the
prospect of a new life in federal Yugoslavia.

REPUBLIKA SRPSKA OPPOSITION UNITES. Some 15 opposition
political parties pledged in Banja Luka on 7 August that they will
work together during and after the parliamentary elections that
President Biljana Plavsic has slated for 10-12 October, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from that northwest Bosnian town. The
parties promised that, if they win the vote, they will set up a
government of experts to guarantee constitutional government and
the independence of the judiciary, and to fight organized crime. Also
in Banja Luka, an aide to Plavsic said that she will set up her own
political party -- the Serbian Party of the Republika Srpska (SSRS) --
on 8 August. The Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) recently expelled
her for having challenged Radovan Karadzic and the rest of the Pale-
based leadership. She helped found the SDS in 1990.

NEWS FROM THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Officials from the Croatian
government, the U.N. administration in eastern Slavonia, and local
governments in that region signed an agreement in Zagreb on 7
August to regulate the reintegration of eastern Slavonia's schools into
the Croatian educational system. In Belgrade, the Croatian embassy
filed a formal protest with the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry over the
desecration of Croatian graves in Vojvodina and the mistreatment of
ethnic Croats in Zemun. In Luxembourg, the EU Presidency
announced the EU will monitor the September Serbian elections only
if it is allowed to monitor the entire process and if all parties have
free access to the media. The government has invited monitors but
wants to impose restrictions on their work.

ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCES "TEST OF FIRE" FOR
REFORMS. Following criticism by the IMF on the slow pace of
liquidation or privatization of state-owned unprofitable enterprises,
Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea on 7 August announced the
government is closing down 17 enterprises. Close to 30,000 people
will lose their jobs as a result of the decision, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. Ciorbea said this was the "test of fire" for the
government's reform program. Those laid off will receive
compensation equal to between six and 12 months wages. Among the
liquidated enterprises are three refineries, which have been
producing well beyond Romania's consumption needs and have
accumulated large arrears to the state budget. To speed up the
liquidation process, energy deliveries to the 17 enterprises are being
stopped as of 8 August.

ROMANIAN LABOR PROTEST. The IMF chief negotiator for Romania,
Poul Thomsen, told the private TV channel Pro TV on 7 August that
he proposed to the government to offer compensation of more than
12 monthly salaries to those laid off to avoid labor unrest. But Radio
Bucharest, on 8 August, already reported on several outbursts of
protest. Some 5,000 workers at the Petrotel refinery in Ploiesti broke
windows at the company's headquarters and chanted "we are not
guilty, we want to work." The protesters were joined by some 800
workers from the Vega refinery, which like Petrotel, is slated for
liquidation. Mediafax reported that workers at the Romfosochim
enterprise in Valea Calugareasca blocked the railway and stopped
traffic between Bucharest and Galati, as well as between Bucharest
and Iasi. On the other hand, the leader of the largest miners' trade
union confederation called off a warning strike after negotiations
yesterday with Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea.

ROMANIA'S "KING OF GYPSIES" DEMANDS HOLOCAUST
COMPENSATION. Florin Cioaba, who calls himself "king" of Romania's
Roma community, is demanding that Germany pay more than 350
million marks in compensation for the extermination of Gypsies at
Auschwitz-Birkenau, Mediafax reported on 6 August. Cioaba told a
press conference that representatives of the Roma communities from
Hungary, Poland, Greece, Austria, Germany and Romania last week
decided at a meeting in Auschwitz to set up a Parliament of European
Roma to defend the interests of the communities in Europe. Cioaba
says 10,100 Gypsies were exterminated at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

CHISINAU-TIRASPOL NEGOTIATIONS STALLED. Anatol Taranu, the
head of the Moldovan delegation at the negotiations under way with
the Transdniestrian separatists, says the discussions are stalled
because of Tiraspol's refusal to accept Article 1 in the draft proposed
by the three mediators, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 7
August. Taranu said the draft mentions a "special status" for the
breakaway region in a sovereign and "territorially indivisible
Moldova." Vladimir Grigoriev, a representative of the Transdniester
delegation, told Infotag and BASA-press that Tiraspol was ready to
accept the formula of a "common state" agreed on in Moscow last
May. But Grigoriev said Tiraspol has its own interpretation of the
formula and sees no reason to accept the draft of the mediators. He
said the draft diverges from what the Chisinau and Tiraspol leaders
agreed to in Moscow

MOLDOVAN COMMUNISTS APPEAL TO FORMER CPSU MEMBERS. The
Central Committee of the Party of Communists of Moldova on 6
August appealed to former CPSU members to join its ranks, Infotag
reported. The party's first secretary, Vladimir Voronin, said former
membership of the CPSU would be recognized by his formation as
counting for seniority. He attacked leaders of states that were
included in the former USSR, saying that they "strive to erase from
the minds of the people notions such as communism and socialism,
the rule of the people, Lenin, October." Voronin also announced that
his party has collected the 200,000 signatures necessary to force a
debate in the parliament on holding a referendum on the law of land
tradability. The law, which Voronin's party opposes, was approved
by the legislature.

OTHER MOLDOVAN POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS. The Peasant
Christian Democratic Party of Moldova (PTCDM) on 7 August decided
to join the right-wing Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM)
alliance, BASA-press reported. For this purpose, the PTCDM has left
the Alliance of Democratic Forces (AFD). Two other former AFD
members, the Ecologist Party and the Women's Christian Democratic
League, had left that alliance in order to join the CDM, which also
includes the Popular Christian Democratic Front, the Moldovan Party
of Rebirth and Conciliation and a group of leaders who recently left
the Moldovan National Peasant Party. Also on 7 August, the Ministry
of Justice officially registered the Moldovan Civic Party headed by
Vladimir Slonari, who left the Socialist Unity-Edinstvo faction. The
new party defines itself as "centrist."

BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS CRITICIZE TEACHING OF RELIGION IN
SCHOOLS. The opposition Socialist Party on 7 August criticized the
government's decision to give pupils the option of studying religion
in school. The party said the introduction of religion in classes would
lead to "greater alienation on an ethnic and religious basis," RFE/RL's
Sofia bureau reported. They warned against infringing on the
separation of state and church. The official press agency BTA
reported on 6 August that in the new school year beginning in
September, pupils aged 7 to 10 will be able to study religion once a
week with theology teachers, if they want to do so.




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