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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 97, Part II, 18 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 AUTHORITIES ARREST ANOTHER RUSSIAN TV CREW


*ALBANIANS RECEIVE DEADLINE TO HAND IN WEAPONS


*NATO PREPARING TO CATCH KARADZIC?


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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES ARREST ANOTHER RUSSIAN TV CREW.
Belarusian border guards on 15 August detained another crew from
Russian Public Television (ORT) at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border,
Interfax reported. The crew, composed of one Belarusian and three
Russian citizens, were accused of violating the country's border
regulations while filming in the border region; they were freed the
same day after paying a fine. However, the next day they were
detained once again when they were about to leave Belarus. ORT
journalist Vladimir Fashenko told a press conference that the
journalists are being held in Lida. In July, Belarusian border guards
arrested Pavel Sheremet, a Belarusian journalist with ORT, and his
crew on charges of illegally trespassing. Sheremet and his colleague
Dimitry Zavadsky remain in prison.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SUGGESTS KEEPING MAJORITY ELECTORAL
SYSTEM. Leonid Kuchma on 15 August proposed that next year's
parliamentary elections be held under the current majority system,
Ukrainian Radio reported. Kuchma was speaking from the Black Sea
resort of Yalta. He said there is not enough time to devise an
alternative voting system to the current one. Before March's
elections, Ukraine's election law must be updated following the
passage last year of the constitution. Opposition parties have called
for a mixed system whereby voters would cast one ballot for an
individual and one for a political party, which would distribute its
allotted seats to candidates on a list drawn up before the vote. Anti-
reform parties would benefit from party-list voting.

ESTONIA SEEKS EXPLANATION FOR IMPOUNDED TRUCKS. The
Estonian Embassy in Moscow on 15 August sent a note to the Russian
Foreign Ministry about the 26 Estonian trucks that have been
impounded in Moscow for more than two weeks, BNS and ETA
reported. The embassy asked the ministry to explain why the trucks
and their drivers have not been released and to assist in resolving
the issue. The trucks were carrying 600 tons of frozen chicken sent
from the U.S. as humanitarian aid to the Russian army and navy. The
Moscow customs authorities seized the cargo and took the trucks
under armed guard to a cold storage plant. According to an embassy
spokeswoman quoted by ETA the customs authorities said the trucks
were impounded because the recipient of the cargo had not provided
the necessary documentation.

LATVIAN UPDATE. Indulis Berzins, the head of the parliament's
Foreign Affairs Committee, told reporters on 15 August that he
believes he has not violated the anti-corruption law, BNS reported.
The Prosecutor-General's Office had announced the previous day that
he broke the law by not declaring shares in the Klubs company (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 15 August 1997). Berzins noted that the company
had not been operating since 1994 and that his contribution to the
company had been "intellectual" rather than financial. In other news,
an official from the Education Ministry told President Guntis Ulmanis
that school students are still using text books that are up to 10 years
old owing to a lack of better teaching materials, BNS reported on 16
August.

MORE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS RETURNED TO LITHUANIA. Polish
border guards sent back to Lithuania on 14 August more than 20
illegal immigrants from Vietnam, China, and Afghanistan, BNS
reported. Several day earlier, more than 60 Bangladeshi and Sri
Lankan citizens were handed over to Lithuanian officials after they
were caught trying to cross the Lithuanian-Polish border. The illegal
immigrants will be detained at the Pabrade Refugee Detention
Center, in eastern Lithuania, which has been the scene of unrest in
recent months. The center was built to accommodate 400 people
(600 in emergency situations) but already houses more than 800.
The center's deputy director told BNS on 15 August that another 116
illegal immigrants must be accommodated at the center within days.

POLISH CATHOLIC PRIMATE CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT. Cardinal Jozef
Glemp on 15 August accused the government of "stubborn" efforts to
keep religious instruction out of schools and public life, Polish Radio
reported. In a sermon delivered to some 200,000 pilgrims at Jasna
Gora, the cardinal said that non-believers in the state leadership
show extraordinary "stubbornness" in fighting for education without
God. He said the government's actions remind the Church of the
"years of communist errors and distortions." For the past four years,
the leftist-dominated parliament has blocked passage of a state
treaty or "concordat" with the Vatican providing for teaching religion
to pre-school children and for grading religion on school report cards.
In June, the lower house of the parliament tried to reduce the
Church's influence in schools and public life by passing bills aimed at
restricting religious instruction and regulating Church burials and
marriages. The Senate has rejected those bills.

POLISH OPPOSITION PARTY LEADS IN POLL. In a pre-election poll
published by the Warsaw daily "Rzeczpospolita" on 18 August,
Solidarity Electoral Action received the support of 28 percent of the
respondents and the Democratic Left Alliance 25 percent, RFE/RL's
Warsaw correspondent reported. The Freedom Union gained 12
percent support, the National Retirees Party 9 percent, the Peasant
Party 8% percent, the Labor Union 7% percent, and the Movement for
Rebuilding of Poland, led by former Premier Jan Olszewski, 6 percent.

CZECH ROMA RETURN FROM CANADA. A six-member Romani family
on 16 August returned from Canada where it was seeking refugee
status, CTK reported. The Canadian authorities had turned away the
family the previous day. Meanwhile, Nova TV director Vladimir
Zelezny told his station's viewers on 16 August that Nova TV did not
act improperly by broadcasting a report on the life of Czech Roma in
Canada, which depicted in rosy colors the life of a Romani family that
had emigrated from the Czech Republic to Canada. The program
inspired thousands of Roma to seek emigration to Canada. The Czech
Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting will discuss at its first
September meeting whether the report contradicted the law. Czech
Ambassador to Canada Stanislav Chylek was quoted in an interview
in the daily "Zemske noviny" on 16 August as saying the Czech
Republic and Canada are seeking to avoid reimposing visa
requirements, which, he said, could follow if large numbers of Roma
emigrate.

HUNGARIAN-SLOVAK SUMMIT FAILS TO SOLVE PROBLEMS. In Gyoer
on 15 August, Prime Minister Gyula Horn handed his Slovak
counterpart, Vladimir Meciar, a nine-point memorandum dealing
with minority issues and said that unless those issues are resolved
by the end of the year, Slovakia will bear the responsibility "for the
fiasco." The memorandum proposes that the two countries' foreign
ministers sign a protocol on the implementation of the 1995 basic
treaty and set up a joint committee that includes representatives of
the Hungarian minority in Slovakia to oversee the treaty's
implementation, Hungarian media report. Meciar said that minority
problems in his country were "more propaganda than substance." He
added that the Slovak government cannot work with minority groups
that do not cooperate with it. Horn and Meciar agreed to hold a
meeting on the Gabcikovo dam project after the Hague International
Court of Justice rules on the issue.

SLOVAK COALITION PARTY OFFICIAL ON HUNGARIAN DEMANDS.
Meanwhile, Marian Andel, honorary chairman of the Slovak National
Party (SNS), told Slovak Radio on 16 August that the demands raised
by Hungarian Premier Horn in the nine-point memorandum are
"outrageous." He said he expected Horn to "finally apologize" to
Meciar for the abolition of the minority education in Hungary at the
beginning of the 1960s, "when the very strong assimilation of
Slovaks began." He noted that while there were 370,000 Slovaks in
Hungary in 1947, only some 9,000 people declared themselves
Slovaks in the last census in Hungary. "This shows who is solving
minority questions and how," Andel remarked.

SLOVAK RULING PARTY OFFICIAL ACCUSES CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
OF BIAS. Jan Cuper, the legal adviser to Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), told Radio
Twist on 15 August that some Constitutional Court rulings are
"ridiculous" and that the Slovak judiciary is under the influence of
the opposition Christian Democrats. He was speaking following a
ruling by the Constitutional Court asking the parliament to reinstate
former HZDS deputy Frantisek Gaulieder, who was stripped of his
mandate by the coalition-dominated legislature. Cuper said the court
has been politicized and has "entered politics although it does not
bear any political responsibility."

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIANS RECEIVE DEADLINE TO HAND IN WEAPONS. The Defense
and Interior Ministries on 17 August ordered citizens to hand in
heavy weapons by the end of the month and small arms by the end
of September. Failure to do so could bring a prison sentence of up to
five years. In addition, members of the defeated Democratic Party
have until 19 August to give up their weapons or face a fine. If they
are caught owning guns after 25 August, they will be prosecuted.
Estimates put the number of illegal weapons stolen during the
anarchy earlier this year at 1 million. Some barracks and police
stations distributed about 4,000 guns, mainly Kalashnikovs, to
Democratic Party supporters in Tirana and in the north. The new
government's top priority is to end lawlessness.

CRACKDOWN, VIOLENCE CONTINUE IN ALBANIA. Interior Ministry
spokesmen said on 16 August that some 20 members of Zani Caushi's
gang have been arrested in Vlora so far, including two of Caushi's
brothers. The Interior Ministry believes that the gang leader is still
in Vlora, but local police say he has fled to Italy (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 15 August 1997). Also in the south, special police units
have arrived in Saranda and Delvina. In the suburb of Tirana-
Kombinat, one policeman was injured when police thwarted a
robbery in progress. Also on 16 August, Tirana dailies loyal to former
President Sali Berisha and his Democratic Party ran a blank front
page to protest that they have been unable to distribute newspapers
in the south since March. The Democrats charge that the Socialists
worked together with criminals to prevent the Democrats from
campaigning in the south.

ALBANIAN MINISTER SAYS MONTENEGRO ENCOURAGES LOOTING.
Interior Minister Neritan Ceka said on 16 August that Montenegro
allows convoys of trucks loaded with scrap metal to cross in from
Albania while at the same time it shoots individual Albanians who
try to enter Yugoslavia in search of work. Ceka added that organized
gangs have been blowing up sections of railroad track in the north,
collecting the pieces, and carting them off to Montenegro for sale. For
months, gangs have been looting factories and other installations for
metal to sell to Montenegro.

NATO PREPARING TO CATCH KARADZIC? British, French, and U.S.
commandos are in Bosnia, where they will soon arrest Bosnian Serb
leader Radovan Karadzic and send him to The Hague, "The Sunday
Times" reported on 17 August. The newspaper added that a NATO
exercise near Karadzic's stronghold at Pale on 13 August was a "dress
rehearsal" for the arrest of the indicted war criminal. Western media,
quoting unnamed military sources, have been reporting for some
days that a move to catch Karadzic is imminent (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 13 August 1997). NATO launched its new policy of
actively pursuing war criminals in Prijedor on 10 July.

SFOR PREVENTS CLASH BETWEEN RIVAL BOSNIAN SERB POLICE.
British NATO troops occupied a police station in Banja Luka on 17
August and prevented a possible clash between Bosnian Serb police
loyal to President Biljana Plavsic and those supporting her Pale-
based opponents. Pro-Plavsic police under Maj. Dragan Lukac, her
security chief, had occupied a building from where, they said, other
policemen were bugging her phones and those of her supporters.
NATO denied permission for pro-Pale police to intervene. An SFOR
spokesman said the peacekeepers will not tolerate violence. SFOR
accused Plavsic's loyalists of violating NATO's new guidelines for
police in Bosnia and questioned the police who seized the station. The
bulk of the Bosnian Serb police are paid by Karadzic.

PLAVSIC TO IGNORE COURT DECISION AGAINST HER. President
Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 18 August that she will ignore the
Republika Srpska Constitutional Court's 15 August ruling that
condemned her dissolution of the parliament and her call for new
elections. Before the decision was announced, Plavsic had said
repeatedly that the court was under political pressure to rule against
her. Judge Jovo Rosic, one member of the court known to support
Plavsic, was badly beaten on 14 August. He spent the weekend in a
Banja Luka hospital guarded by pro-Plavsic soldiers. In Washington,
a State Department spokesman on 15 August reiterated U.S. support
for Plavsic and criticized the court's decision as politically motivated.
In Bijeljina on 16 August, Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of
the Bosnian joint presidency, praised the court's decision.

BOSNIAN REFUGEE UPDATE. UN spokesmen in Sarajevo said on 17
August that some 100 Muslims have peacefully returned to their old
homes in Croat-held Krusica, near Jajce. In the Olovo area, Bosnian
Serb police arrested five Muslims who were part of a larger group
who had returned to visit their former homes. Explosions near
Muslim-controlled Bugojno on 16 August destroyed two Croat-owned
homes and damaged a third. In Stolac, local Croats stoned busses
carrying Muslims back to their pre-war homes. Under the Dayton
agreement, all persons have the right to freedom of movement
throughout Bosnia and the right to go back to their homes.

PROGRESS IN CHISINAU-TIRASPOL NEGOTIATIONS? Vasile Sova, the
acting head of the Moldovan delegation to ongoing negotiations with
the breakaway Transdniester region, told Infotag on 15 August that
"some progress" was made in negotiations with Tiraspol the previous
day. Sova said agreement was reached on most of the 12 points of
the draft agreement submitted by the three mediators (Russia,
Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe). But he added that Tiraspol still objects to describing the
Transdniester as an integral part of Moldova and to the proposal on
how to divide powers between Chisinau and Tiraspol during a
transition period until a final settlement of the conflict.

TIRASPOL CRITICIZES RUSSIAN COMMANDER. Responding to
accusations by Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, the commander of the Russian
troops in the Transdniester (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 August 1997),
the leadership of the breakaway region accused Yevnevich of
deliberately raising tensions in the region on the eve of talks about
the future of the Russian army's assets. Tiraspol's official news
agency Olivia-Press reported on 15 August that ammunition
allegedly belonging to the separatist region has already been
destroyed on the orders of Yevnevich, who "is hiding something" and
is "making the Moldovan leadership very pleased." The agency
reiterated that the Transdniester's "population and public
organizations are increasingly concerned" about the alleged
increasingly close relationship between Yevnevich and Moldovan
Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat and about cooperation between the
Moldovan and Russian armies "without the participation of
Transdniester's leaders and people."

MOLDOVAN NATIONAL SECURITY MINISTER ON COUNTRY'S FUTURE.
In an interview with the daily "Flux" published on 15 August, Tudor
Botnaru said the Transdniestrian conflict is a "long-term problem"
that is likely to take years to solve and that a solution is unlikely to
be found unless Russia changes its attitude. "The key is neither in
Chisinau nor in Tiraspol, but in Moscow," he said. Botnaru said the
greatest danger for Moldova's future is the further deterioration of
its economy, Infotag reported. With regard to relations with Romania,
he said unification between the two countries would be good for both
but could not be based on the 1918 or 1941 unification models. "It
should be a step-by-step process, starting with the present
generation" and possibly concluding with "our children or grand-
children."

BULGARIA TO PRIVATIZE NATIONAL TV CHANNEL. The government
on 15 August said it will privatize one of Bulgaria's two national
television channels, BTA reported. It added that the privatization of
the Efir Two channel would mean reduced spending on national
television. If sold, the channel would become the first nationwide
private television channel. Private channels launched after the fall of
the communist regime can be received only locally.

ZHIVKOV CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT. Addressing a public gathering on
17 August, Bulgarian former communist leader Todor Zhivkov
criticized the reformist government for not doing enough to curb
inflation and unemployment since taking office in May. Zhivkov, who
is under house arrest, is being investigated for allegedly channeling
millions of dollars to communist parties and movements abroad and
for incitement to ethnic hatred. He was given a two-day reprieve to
attend the gathering in Yundola, a mountain resort some 125
kilometers southeast of Sofia, BTA reported. The Supreme Court
overturned a seven-year sentence handed down in 1992 for
misappropriating state funds and embezzlement.


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