Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. - Sir Winston Churchill
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 92, Part II, 11 August 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/

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Headlines, Part II

* BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST FINED FOR ORGANIZING
DEMONSTRATION

* SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER TO TAKE PART IN
SEPTEMBER ELECTIONS

* U.S. TO CRACK DOWN ON BOSNIAN PARAMILITARIES

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST FINED FOR ORGANIZING
DEMONSTRATION. The Minsk district court on 8 August ruled that
Valentin Astashinsky, a member of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF),
was guilty of organizing an unsanctioned march on 27 July, the
anniversary of Belarus's sovereignty. Astashinky was fined 150
minimum monthly wages (22.5 million Belarusian rubles or $833).
Astashinsky says he will file an appeal with the Minsk City Court and
the Prosecutor's Office. He told Belapan that on 8 August, police
arrived at the BPF office to demand that deputy chairman Yury
Belenky, who also signed the application for the 27 July demonstration,
immediately report to the local police.

WORKERS IN BREST DENIED RIGHT TO PICKET. Authorities in
Brest have denied an application by the Tsvetotron factory's Free Trade
Union to picket the Regional Executive Committee on 14 August. The
union's main demands are to liquidate wage arrears and dismiss the
factory's director. The authorities said, however, that since the factory
administration has already started paying off wage arrears and is
drawing up a program to pull the factory out of its crisis within six
months, the workers have no reason to stage a protest.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS FIRST DEPUTY PRIME
MINISTER. Leonid Kuchma on 8 August signed a decree appointing
Anatoly Holubchenko first deputy prime minister, according to the
presidential press service. Holubchenko, a metallurgical engineer, was
industry minister from 1992 to 1995. He represents the Constitutional
Center in the parliament. In other news, Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy
Tyhypko and tax officials have agreed that the law on value-added tax
will go into effect on 1 October. The law's implementation has been
postponed twice since 1 July at the government's request.

BALTICS REACT ANGRILY TO FREEZING OF BANK ACCOUNTS
IN RUSSIA. The Baltic States reacted angrily to the recent freezing of
Russian bank accounts of a number of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian
banks, BNS and Interfax reported. The St. Petersburg tax police on 31
July blocked the accounts, claiming the banks had violated Russian
legislation by not informing the necessary authorities when accounts
were opened for Russian firms. The tax police demanded the banks pay
a 20 percent sales tax on sums transferred abroad. Some Baltic bank
accounts in Moscow were also reported to have been affected. The banks
dismissed the demands as "absurd" and "totally groundless," according
to ETA. By 8 August, some bank accounts had been unfrozen following
a ruling by a Russian arbitration court. The banks have said they intend
to sue the tax police for damages.

LATVIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY COMPLAINS OF INSUFFICIENT
FUNDING. The Defense Ministry has sent a letter to the president,
prime minister, and finance minister complaining that the 1997 and
1998 budgets are insufficient to maintain current standards in the armed
forces and National Guard, BNS reported. Speaking at a press
conference on 8 August, Defense Minister Talavs Jundzis said
insufficient funding will prevent the Latvian military from participating
in international exercises in 1998. He added that "we may be ready to
join NATO politically but not financially." The armed forces have been
allotted 0.51 percent of GNP this year and 0.46 percent next year.

LANDSLIDES FOLLOW FLOODS IN EAST CENTRAL EUROPE. A
district environmental official in Vsetin said there is a danger of
landslides throughout eastern Moravia following the recent catastrophic
floods. The daily "Mlada Fronta Dnes" on 11 August reported that
several rivers have changed course and some hills have moved as a
result of the floods. In Poland, PAP reported on 10 August that the
former fortress at Malbork, in northern Poland, may collapse as a result
of high ground water. Government Commissioner for Children's
Affairs Miroslawa Katna as said the floods may traumatize children who
witnessed their homes being inundated, their pets drown, their toys float
away, and the extremely brutal behavior of adults. She says "the
destruction of all values before their very eyes cannot but affect their
psyche," PAP reported.

POLISH SENATOR ADMITS TO COLLABORATING WITH
COMMUNIST-ERA SECRET POLICE. Senator Gerhard Bartodziej,
who represents Poland's German minority, has issued a statement saying
he was a "conscious and secret collaborator of the state security organs."
He told dpa on 10 August he does not feel morally guilty, adding that he
had been the victim of blackmail by the communist secret police.
Bartodziej, who is chairman of the Central Council of German Societies
in Poland, says his activities were aimed neither against the Church nor
against the opposition. He says it will be up to voters in the electoral
district of Opole to decide in the 21 September elections whether to keep
him in office. A recent law requires prospective and current public
officials to declare whether they had collaborated with the secret police
prior to the collapse of communist rule.

ANOTHER SHOOT-OUT IN CZECH REPUBLIC AMONG EX-
SOVIET CITIZENS. Three people were hospitalized, one in serious
condition, following a shoot-out between Ukrainian and Tajik members
of what was described as a "Russian-speaking mafia" at a highway rest
stop near Prague on 9 August, Czech media reported. Police found 37
spent cartridges at the scene of the shooting, which was just 100 meters
from homes inhabited by Russian speakers. The incident came one week
after a shoot-out in broad daylight on Prague's Wenceslas Square
involving Chechens. Three gunmen had to be hospitalized following that
incident.

CZECH OFFICIAL CALLS FOR TIGHTENING VISA
REQUIREMENTS FOR RUSSIANS. Deputy Interior Minister Martin
Fendrych said on Czech TV on 10 August that the country's visa policy
should be tightened toward citizens of certain states -- including Russia
-- from where it is alleged that organized crime in the Czech Republic
originates. He says the Czech Republic cannot enter the EU unless it
harmonizes its visa policy with that of the union. Currently, Russians do
not need visas to enter the Czech Republic. Fendrych said foreigners
constitute one-quarter of all those engaged in organized crime in the
country. A new bill on residence permits for foreigners requires
prospective residents to supply a police record from their home
country.

SLOVAK UPDATE. Forty ethnic Slovak families in Ukraine, mainly
from areas affected by the 1986 Chornobyl disaster, are to emigrate to
Slovakia this year, TASR reported from Kosice on 10 August. All the
families were selected by the Slovak Interior Ministry's immigration
office. Most have members who are university educated. The first 19
families are due to arrive shortly and will be settled in 3-4 room
apartments in Kosice that they purchased with a 20-year interest-free
loan guaranteed by the immigration office. The other families are due to
arrive in the fall. In other news, more than 4,000 Romas participated in
the fifth annual Romany Roman Catholic pilgrimage on 10. August in
Gaboltov in eastern Slovakia, TASR reported.

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER ON EU INTEGRATION. In an
interview with Hungarian Radio on 10 August, Gyula Horn said his
country's top priority is how to come closer to meeting EU standards.
He noted that Hungary's per capita GDP is only 37 percent of the EU
average, while income levels are three times lower than the EU average.
According to the premier, the European Commission's recent report on
Hungary is accurate, with the exception on the chapter on corruption,
which, he said, is not a Central European but a global phenomenon.

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER CANCELS VISIT TO
HUNGARY. Victor Babiuc has canceled a visit to Hungary scheduled
for 11 and 12 August, "Magyar Hirlap" reported. The Romanian
Defense Ministry gave no explanation for Babiuc's decision. Sources
quoted by the Budapest daily said he had been unhappy about the
program planned for him in Budapest, since he would have been unable
to meet with many politicians owing to the summer holidays. According
to Romanian sources, Babiuc was to sign an agreement with his
Hungarian counterpart, Gyoergy Keleti, on military cooperation.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CRACKDOWN ON CRIME CONTINUES IN ALBANIA. Deputy
Defense Minister Ndre Legisi said in Tirana on 10 August that more
than 100 people were arrested the previous week as part of the new
government's crackdown on the gangs that continue to terrorize much
of the country. Some 46 people were killed that week in the ongoing
violence, down from 61 the week before. Some 1,500 criminals escaped
from prisons during the anarchy in February and March and are still on
the run, news agencies reported. Spokesmen for the government and
opposition alike have recently called for the enforcement of the death
penalty, which Albania suspended in 1996 at the request of the Council
of Europe.

ALBANIAN UPDATE. In Berat on 9 August, unidentified persons stole
18 icons that Orthodox Church officials had sent to a warehouse next to
a police station for safe-keeping. Two of the icons date from the sixth
century, while most of the others are from the18th century. In Tirana
on 10 August, officials of the State Prosecutor's Office and the Justice
Ministry said that Leka Zogu, the claimant to the throne, and his aide
Abedin Mulosmani face arrest if they return to Albania. They are
wanted for "organizing an armed rally" that took place in the capital on
3 July. Leka was armed during the rally, which he and his supporters
called to protest what they said was fraud in counting the votes in the 29
June referendum on reestablishing the monarchy.

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER TO TAKE PART IN SEPTEMBER
ELECTIONS. Vuk Draskovic, the leader of the Serbian Renewal
Movement (SPO), told BK TV in Belgrade on 10 August that his party
will participate in the Serbian parliamentary and presidential elections
slated for 21 September. He said the SPO must take part so that the
voters have a choice. Zoran Djindjic's Democratic Party and several
smaller opposition groups have said they will not participate. Opposition
leader Vesna Pesic said in Belgrade on 10 August that she will not run
because the elections will be neither free nor fair owing to Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic's control over the media and the recent
increase in the number of electoral districts, which favors Milosevic's
party.

HOLBROOKE RECEIVES ANOTHER PROMISE FROM KARADZIC.
U.S. envoys Richard Holbrooke and Robert Gelbard ended their latest
mission to the Balkans in Belgrade on 9 August. Following talks with
Milosevic and with Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the
Bosnian joint presidency, Holbrooke said that Krajisnik "offered a
unilateral undertaking that the agreement reached on 18 July last year
[for indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic to stay out of politics] will
be respected... This [is] a unilateral offer from Krajisnik...and we will
watch carefully if it will be implemented. We gave nothing in return."
Holbrooke said Washington's policy remains that Karadzic must be tried
at the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. The envoy added that, on
frequent occasions, Karadzic has "dramatically violated...every term of
the agreement," which, he added, Krajisnik and Milosevic
acknowledged.

U.S. TO CRACK DOWN ON BOSNIAN PARAMILITARIES.
Holbrooke also said in Belgrade on 9 August that implementation of the
Dayton agreement is running approximately one year behind schedule.
He noted that two key problems are the absence of freedom of
movement and the fact that key war criminals are still free. On 10
August in Pale, U.S. Gen. Eric Shinseki, the new commander of SFOR,
told Krajisnik that Washington insists that police and other paramilitary
forces in Bosnia be placed under NATO control. All three nationalist
groups have such forces but the Serbian paramilitaries provide personal
security for Karadzic and other indicted war criminals. Many observers
consider neutralizing those private armies as a first step toward catching
the indicted individuals and sending them to The Hague.

EU ENDS BOYCOTT OF BOSNIAN DIPLOMATS. The EU
presidency on 9 August called on member states to end their six-day
boycott of Bosnian diplomats (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 August 1997).
Germany and Italy said they would comply, while France had restored
diplomatic ties on 8 August. The presidency's decision follows an
agreement between the Muslims, Serbs, and Croats on 7 August to
divide ambassadorships among themselves (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8
August 1997). Meanwhile in Sarajevo, Britain's Princess Diana on 10
August ended a three-day visit to Bosnia to promote aid for land-mine
victims.

NEWS FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. U.S. Gen. Jacques Klein said
in Osijek on 9 August that he is proud of his achievements during his
20-month mission as the UN's chief administrator in eastern Slavonia,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported from that Slavonian town. Klein
said his mission "made history." He now becomes deputy to Carlos
Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in
Bosnia. Many observers regard Klein's work in Slavonia as one of the
international community's few success stories in the former Yugoslavia.
In Novi Pazar, Muslim leaders said in a declaration they are satisfied
with the talks that one of their representatives held with Holbrooke and
Gelbard in Belgrade the previous day. The statement said Holbrooke
pledged to speak to Milosevic about discrimination against Sandzak's
Muslims, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Novi Pazar.

ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER ON LAYOFFS. Prime Minister
Victor Ciorbea, in an interview with Romanian Television on 8 August,
said the government is determined to abide by its decision to liquidate
17 loss-making enterprises (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 August 1997).
Ciorbea said some parts of the enterprises slated for liquidation may be
saved through privatization if suitable offers are made, but he added that
there is no chance for any of the loss-making giants to survive. He said
dismissed workers can begin collecting compensation payments as of 11
August. In a press release on 8 August, the Ministry of Interior warned
against the repetition of violent protests, saying it has instructed its
forces to intervene if necessary.

UPDATE ON ROMANIAN WORKERS' PROTESTS. Four policemen
were injured on 8 August in clashes with demonstrators in Ploiesti.
Twelve demonstrators were fined. Rail traffic has resumed following
police intervention at Valea Calugareasca (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8
August 1997). In Bacau, protesters temporarily held hostage the deputy
prefect and State Property Fund representatives. Protest actions have
been reported in Braila and Cluj, RFE/RL correspondents reported. The
opposition Party of Socialist Democracy in Romania on 8 August
accused the cabinet of having negotiated with the IMF "on its knees."
Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor said his formation
wants Romania to cut off all links with the IMF and the World Bank. He
said their "stingy loans" would be more than offset by the "billions of
dollars" Romania is losing by following their policies.

FLOODS IN ROMANIA, MOLDOVA. One person died and dozens of
households were damaged as a result of heavy rains in Romania's Salaj,
Giurgiu, and Olt Counties on 10 August, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. Several days earlier, rains and floods caused heavy damage to
houses and roads in Bacau and Hunedoara Counties. Environment
Minister Ion Olteanu estimated on 8 August that the damage caused by
the recent floods will total $150 million. He said 20 people died and
some 25,000 homes, 625 kilometers of roads, 334 bridges, and 43 dams
were either damaged or destroyed. In neighboring Moldova, torrential
rains on 7-8 August destroyed several kilometers of roads and two
bridges. Many homes in the districts of Soldanesti, Calarasi, and
Camenca were damaged, Infotag reported.

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION CHALLENGES LAW ON SECRET
POLICE FILES. The opposition Socialist Party, the Alliance for
National Salvation, and the Bulgarian Business Bloc on 8 August
appealed to the Constitutional Court against the recently adopted law on
opening communist-era secret police files (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31
July 1997). The 52 signatories to the appeal said the law places the
government above the legislative and judicial branches because the
commission that is to examine the files of high-ranking officials is
headed by the interior minister, BTA reported. The signatories say that
if the files of the country's president were to indicate that he
collaborated with the former communist security services, both national
security -- which he oversees -- and the normal functioning of the state
would be jeopardized.

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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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