|Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast obscure unfinished masterpiece. - Vladimir Nabokov|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 95, Part II, 14 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/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II *BELARUSIAN KGB SEARCHES HOMES OF DETAINED JOURNALISTS *FORMER ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ATTENDS STORMY PARLIAMENT SESSION *MONTENEGRIN COURT RULES AGAINST PRESIDENT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN KGB SEARCHES HOMES OF DETAINED JOURNALISTS. Belarusian KGB officials searched the Minsk apartments of the Russian Public Television (ORT) journalist Pavel Sheremet and his cameraman Dmitrii Zavadskii on 13 August, RFE/RL reported. They made a complete inventory of their property, Interfax reported, adding that an official statement issued after the inventory states no property was seized. The search took place on the same day as Sheremet, a Belarusian citizen who heads the ORT bureau in Minsk, began a protest fast in prison. Sheremet was arrested in July with his cameraman and driver and charged with trespassing on the Belarusian-Lithuanian border while working on a story about smuggling. Sheremet and his cameraman have since been in custody in Hrodno, while the driver has been released pending trial. No date for their trial has yet been set. FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN UKRAINE INCREASES. Foreign investment in Ukraine totaled $335.5 million during the first half of 1997, a 46.1 percent increase over the same period last year, Ukrainian Television reported on 13 August, citing the Statistics Committee. The largest investors were the United States ($315 million), Germany ($165.9 million), the Netherlands ($160.2 million), Great Britain ($130.9 million), Cyprus ($116.4 million), Russia ($114.2 million) and Liechtenstein ($103.1 million). Investments are mainly in the food industry, machine building, metal processing, finance and insurance, construction and construction materials production, and the chemical and petrochemical industries. LUHANSK MINERS CONTINUE HUNGER STRIKE. The Luhansk Oblast administration on 13 August negotiated with pickets and hunger- strikers from the Krasnodon mine, UNIAN reported. Of the 300 people who have been picketing the administration since 7 July, 170 are on a hunger strike. The miners are demanding the administration abide by the constitution by fulfilling labot contracts and paying wage arrears for the last nine months. FUNERAL OF ODESSA EDITOR. More than 20,000 people attended the funeral on 13 August of Borys Derevyanko, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Vechernya Odesa," who was murdered two days earlier by an unknown assailant, UNIAN reported. Robert Menard, the secretary-general of the Paris-based Reporters sans frontiers, has sent a letter to President Leonid Kuchma expressing concern over Derevyanko's murder. He called on the authorities to find the murderer, investigate the motive, and ensure protection of "Vechernya Odesa" reporters. Meanwhile, UNIAN reported 13 August that Konstiantyn Serdiuk, the editor-in-chief of "Chernihivskiy Pivden," an independent newspaper, was beaten up on 8. August by three unknown persons. He was hospitalized and diagnosed as having suffered brain damage with internal bleeding. ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER AGREEMENT TO BE SIGNED BY YEAR'S END? Estonian Prime Minister Mart Siimann told journalists in Tallinn on 13 August that the Estonian-Russian border agreement is likely to be signed this year, ETA and BNS reported. He was speaking after a meeting with outgoing Russian Ambassador to Estonia Aleksandr Trofimov. Siimann said that although some technical and political problems remain, they can be overcome if both countries are interested in a "positive result." He welcomed an earlier Russian proposal to form a joint commission for dealing with economic and humanitarian issues. CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST DRIVERS IN TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT LATVIAN FIREFIGHTERS SHOW. The two drivers of the hydraulic basket lift at a firefighters show in Talsi in late June have been charged with murder by negligence, BNS reported on 13 August. Nine children died and more than 20 were injured when the basket fell from a height of 20 meters. If found guilty, the two men face up to two years in prison or a fine equivalent to 20 minimum monthly wages. (The minimum monthly wage is currently 38 lats or $65.) It is also planned to bring charges against the heads of the Riga and Talsi firefighting services. LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT ASKED TO INTERVENE FOR JOURNALISTS DETAINED IN BELARUS. Algirdas Brazauskas has received a letter from Ludmila Sheremet, the mother of one of the Russian Public Television (ORT) journalists being detained in Belarus, asking for Lithuania's help in securing the journalists' release, BNS reported. A presidential aide told the news agency that the detention of the journalists is an "affair between Russia and Belarus." But he added that Vilnius may try to urge Belarus to "solve the problem objectively" when the Lithuanian capital hosts an international conference in September, to which Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been invited. Lithuania may also "draw attention to the necessity to observe democracy, human rights, and other international norms," the aide said. MORE STATE AID FOR CZECH FLOOD VICTIMS. The Czech government on 13. August approved the disbursement of a further 3.5 billion crowns ($103 million dollars) from the state budget to help pay to repair damage caused by the recent flooding in eastern Bohemia and Moravia, "Hospodarske noviny" reports. The funds will be used for rebuilding local infrastructure, assisting flood damaged companies, and supporting housing construction. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said local authorities will receive up to 500,000 crowns ($14,700) in subsidies for every new rental apartment built. He says the government is requesting permission to use some 2.3 billion crowns ($67.6 million) from the EU's PHARE program for repairing transportation and river-related infrastructure. CZECH -ROMANY RELATIONS STRAINED, AS ROMA PACK BAGS FOR CANADA. In a report delivered to Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 14 August, the government Council on Nationalities accused the cabinet of failing to do anything fundamental to help bridge the growing gulf between Roma and the "white" population, "Mlada Fronta Dnes" reported. The report said 70 percent of Roma are unemployed and 20-30 percent earn income from criminal activities. Klaus on 13 August insisted the government has done everything possible to deal with Romani issues and that they have no reason to leave the country. So far this year, 419 Czech citizens have requested refugee status in Canada, according to Canadian officials. Romani leaders say up to 5,000 Roma plan to emigrate to Canada as a result of ongoing racism and following a recent TV show depicting Czech Romas happily settling in Canada. SLOVAK OPPOSITION, HUNGARIAN MINORITY PARTIES PREPARE FOR POST-ELECTION COOPERATION. The Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), an alliance of five opposition parties, and the Hungarian Coalition (MK), a coalition of three Hungarian minority parties, have reiterated their resolve to sign a written political agreement probably as early as September, RFE/RL's Slovak Service reported on 13 August. The agreement is expected to lay the groundwork for post-election cooperation between the SDK and the MK and for forming a post- election coalition government. Public opinion polls indicate that the two blocs could win half of the mandates in the new parliament. Until now, only the Democratic Party and some Christian Democrats have signaled their desire to see ethnic Hungarians in the government. COMMUNIST STATE SECURITY FILES TO BE MADE PUBLIC IN HUNGARY. An office containing communist state security files will be open from 1 September to researchers and those who believe they were under observation during the communist era, office head Gyoergy Marko announced on 13 August. The office will be set up temporarily at the Interior Ministry building in Budapest. Marko estimated that in the summer of 1989, the security services had files on some 160,000 people under observation. He said it could take up to five years to process the approximately 15-20 million pages, Hungarian media reported. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE FORMER ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ATTENDS STORMY PARLIAMENT SESSION. Sali Berisha and other deputies from his Democratic Party ended their boycott of the new parliament on 13 August. Berisha told the legislature that the Democrats "have not come here to show that this is a legal parliament. We came only because this parliament is the only political solution." Socialist faction leader Pandeli Majko said that Berisha today is "only a shadow" of the leader he was when communism fell in 1990. Majko also slammed the former president for not mentioning in his speech all the people who died in the violence that marked his final months in office. Later, the parliament approved Arben Rakipi of the Socialist Party as attorney-general. MONTENEGRIN COURT RULES AGAINST PRESIDENT. The Constitutional Court on 14 August ruled that only Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic is the legal presidential candidate of the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS), an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. President Momir Bulatovic must run as the candidate of another party or as an independent if he wants to seek reelection in the October vote. The court ruling came after one DPS faction nominated Djukanovic and another selected Bulatovic. The Election Commission accepted both candidacies as legal, even though the law states that each party may nominate only one candidate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August 1997). The court ruling is a clear setback for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his backers in Montenegro. SERBS IN MONTENEGRO PROTEST CONCESSION TO ALBANIANS. Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic told representatives of the Democratic Union of Albanians in Ulcinj on 13 August that he will restore to Tuzi the status of municipality that it enjoyed until 1961. Municipal status for the mainly Albanian town will mean more jobs for local politicians. The Serbian Party of Montenegro (SSCG) protested the decision as "a cheap political trick" to win the support of the Albanian minority, which makes up 8 percent of the republic's population, and to convey the image abroad that Montenegro deals generously with its Albanians while Serbia does not. The SSCG added that Djukanovic is treating Montenegro's Serbs, who form 10 percent of the population, like an ethnic minority and that the SSCG will appeal to the Supreme Defense Council of Yugoslavia to discuss Djukanovic's actions. Similar appeals to Belgrade from Serbs outside Serbia preceded the wars in Croatia and Bosnia. NATO COMMANDER CALLS ON KARADZIC TO SURRENDER. U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark paid an unannounced visit on 13 August to Pale, the mountain headquarters of Radovan Karadzic and the other Bosnian Serb hard-liners. Clark said that Karadzic is an "indicted war criminal, he needs to turn himself in voluntarily." The general also criticized the use of 3,000 special police as bodyguards for Karadzic. Clark said the police should guard only government officials and their guests and that they should not have a military-type organization. NATO member countries have been putting political, diplomatic, military, economic, and psychological pressure on Karadzic in recent weeks to give himself up or at least to disappear completely from public life. ALBRIGHT DENIES SHE OFFERED DEAL ON KARADZIC. Together with the White House and the State Department, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on 13 August denied that she offered Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic a deal to send Karadzic into exile in a third country and stressed that the only place for Karadzic is in The Hague (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August 1997). Albright said that she hopes that Plavsic remembers her obligations under the Dayton agreement better than she remembered the conversation in which Plavsic alleged that Albright had offered her the deal. Also in Washington, the Pentagon denied reports that NATO commandos are training to catch war criminals. News agencies added, however, that Defense Department officials privately confirmed the report. BRCKO UPDATE. Robert Farrand, the international supervisor in the contested northern Bosnian town of Brcko, said on 13 August that the Bosnian Serb authorities continue to refuse to issue identity documents to Muslims and Croats returning to their homes. He said that the refugees' documents from the Croatian-Muslim federation will remain valid until the Serbian authorities change their policy. Republika Srpska Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic responded that "technical difficulties" are the reason that the Serbs have not issued the refugees new papers. He accused Farrand of trying to encourage an influx of refugees into the town. The Serbs, Klickovic added, insist that any returns take place "at a normal pace." In Sarajevo, SFOR troops went on heightened alert after receiving what spokesmen called "a security threat." TALKS UNDER WAY TO SEND INDICTED BOSNIAN CROAT TO THE HAGUE? Negotiations are in progress to send one of the most wanted indicted Bosnian war criminals, Dario Kordic, to face the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, the Zagreb weekly "Globus" reported on 14 August. Kresimir Zubak, the Croatian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, said: "I think it is possible they will manage to agree and that [Kordic] will go to The Hague on the condition that the trial begins reasonably quickly." Kordic may well go to The Hague as early as within the next 10 days, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has been under strong U.S. pressure to send indicted Bosnian Croats to the court. Gen. Tihomir Blaskic has been in The Hague since April 1996 as a result of negotiations with the tribunal. Both he and Kordic were indicted for crimes connected with the 1993 Croatian-Muslim conflict. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT, TRADE UNIONS REACH AGREEMENT. Representatives of the main trade unions met with Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea and members of his cabinet on 13 August and reached an agreement on wages for the period August-December 1997, Romanian media reported. This latest agreement stipulates an increase of 15 percent for August and September and a further 14 percent increase for October through December. The minimum salary will be 225,000 lei (some $30) in August and September and 250,000 lei for the remainder of the year. Also on 13 August, local media reported that most miners at the Deva copper mines have registered to receive government compensation for employees at companies undergoing liquidation, even though the Deva mines are not on the liquidation list. RUSSIAN COMMANDER IN TRANSDNIESTER CRITICIZES TIRASPOL LEADERSHIP. Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, in a statement published on 13 August, says the Transdniester leadership's claims on Russian army assets are "a provocation" and "may wreck the process of a peaceful settlement of the Transdniester conflict," ITAR-TASS reported on 13 August. Representatives of organizations calling themselves "voluntary" and "civic" (such as the United Council of Work Collectives, the Women's Union, and the Union of Cossacks) recently appealed to Yevnevich not to contribute to the Moldovan-Russian maneuvers scheduled for October by providing equipment which, they claimed, belongs to the Transdniester and is "temporarily used by the Russian army." Yevnevich said in his statement that this was a "slanderous campaign" against the Russian troops. MOLDOVA TO SELL MIG-29S. Two high-ranking Moldovan officers said in a televised interview on 12 August that Moldova plans to sell MiG-29 fighters and purchase combat helicopters, BASA-press reported. Gen. Ion Nanii, an adviser to Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat, and Col. Dumitru Braghis, who commands the Decebal aviation brigade, said the government has not yet decided to which country to sell the airplanes. Braghis denied reports that six MiGs have already been sold to Belarus, explaining that the planes had flown to Minsk for repairs and would return to Moldova. The two officers said the number of helicopters to be purchased depends on the amount obtained from the sale of the MiGs. They added that details of the deal are a "state secret." MOLDOVAN PREMIER DENIES INTENTION TO RECOGNIZE BESSARABIAN CHURCH. Ion Ciubuc has said that Gheorghe Armasu, the director of the government office in charge of religious affairs, "misinformed" the Chisinau Court of Appeal when he said the government will recognize the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church on 13 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August 1997), RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 13 August. Ciubuc said the government's agenda for its 13 August meeting had never included the Church's recognition. The Bessarabian Church is subordinated to the Bucharest patriarchate and has been denied recognition for five years. Armasu told the court that the reason for the denial of recognition was that "Bessarabia" (the name of the Romanian province whose bulk makes up today's Moldova) does not exist at all. BULGARIAN POLICE SEIZE PIRATED VIDEOS. Continuing the drive to crackdown on audio-visual piracy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1997), police on 13 August seized some 2,000 illegally produced video cassettes, BTA reported. The raid was carried out in 63 stores and companies that distribute video cassettes in the Bulgarian capital. The confiscated cassettes are valued at some $8,200. The Ministry of Interior released a statement saying that since the beginning of 1997, more than 200,000 illegally produced compact discs, 100,000 audio cassettes, and 30,000 video cassettes have been confiscated. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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