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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 98, Part II, 19 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 * BELARUS PRESSES CHARGES AGAINST RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS * ANOTHER SIX DEAD IN ALBANIAN GANG WARS * PLAVSIC FOES ARREST, THEN FREE HER POLICE CHIEF End Note FORGET THE FORMER SOVIET UNION xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS PRESSES CHARGES AGAINST RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS. Belarusian authorities on 18 August started legal proceedings against four journalists from Russian Public Television (ORT), Interfax reported. The journalists -- three Russians and one Belarusian -- are accused of illegally crossing the border between Belarus and Lithuania on 15 August. They were arrested at almost the same point where another ORT team was detained in July. Belarusian officials said on 18 August that one of the journalists, Anatoly Adamchuk, had written a letter to the authorities admitting that ORT "deliberately planned " the incident. Interfax also quoted Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka as saying the journalists had sent him a message naming the people who had sent them to Belarus "under threat of dismissal." He said it was "clear who stands behind the puppeteers." Meanwhile, Belarusian authorities on 18 August arrested another ORT journalist, Vladimir Fashenko, after he refused to make a statement in the case. RUSSIAN OFFICIALS SEEK JOURNALISTS' RELEASE. Meeting with Belarusian President Lukashenka in Minsk, Russian ambassador Valerii Loshchilin on 18 August handed Lukashenka a request from Russia that the ORT journalists detained on 15 August be released as a "gesture of goodwill," Russian news agencies reported. Speaking in Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin told Interfax that Russia is considering providing legal support to the ORT journalists. Later the same day, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying the ministry and the Russian embassy in Minsk are taking "active measures" to try to resolve the conflict. Also on 18 August, Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin said the recent arrests of Russian journalists do not reflect well on the Belarusian leadership, Interfax reported. UKRAINE MAY SUPPLY TURBINE TO IRAN. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Hennady Udovenko on 18 August said is considering a proposal by Turboatom, a Kharkiv-based factory, to supply a turbine for a reactor Russia is building in Iran," Interfax reported. Udovenko was speaking during a visit to the eastern Ukrainian city. Udovenko said he will study a draft contract under which Turboatom would supply a 1,000-megawatt turbine for the plant in the Iranian city of Bushehr. Udovenko admitted that "fulfillment of the contract could complicate relations with our partners." The U.S. and Israel have argued that the plant could help Iran develop nuclear weapons. In April, Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Natan Sharansky said Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma had promised him that Ukraine would not provide Russia with turbines for the Bushehr project or "do anything to help Iran, Iraq, or Libya build weapons of mass destruction." SECT LEADER RELEASED FROM UKRAINIAN PRISON. Marina Tsvygun- Krivonogova, one of the leaders of the White Fraternity sect, was released from the Dneprodzerzhinsk corrective labor camp on 17 August under an amnesty, ITAR-TASS reported. Tsvygun- Krivonogova was sentenced to four years in prison in February 1996 on charges of citing mass disorder during a prayer vigil outside Kyiv's cathedral. Tsvygun-Krivonogova, together with her husband Yuri Krivonogov, patriarch of the sect, involved mostly teenagers in their organization. Calling herself Maria Devi Christ, Tsvygun- Krivonogova last addressed supporters of her faith one month ago in a televised interview from the camp. LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH ESTONIA. In an interview with the Estonian daily "Sonumileht" published on 18 August, Algirdas Brazauskas said that Estonian-Lithuanian relations should be "much more concrete" at the government level, BNS reported. He stressed there are no "ill signs" in those relations but that too little attention is paid to bilateral free trade and improving customs and communications. Brazauskas also commented that Estonia managed to "show itself in a better light" than Latvia and Lithuania and was thus proposed by the European Commission to begin talks on accession to the EU. He argued that Baltic statistics are difficult to compare because of different methodologies, which, he said, makes the work of the European Commission difficult. Brazauskas's remarks came on the eve of Estonian President Lennart Meri's first state visit to Lithuania, scheduled to begin on 20 August. POLISH PRESIDENT OPPOSES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE IN GOVERNMENT. A presidential spokesman told journalists on 18 August that Aleksander Kwasniewski will not recognize a no-confidence motion against the government submitted by the Polish Peasant Party, a coalition partner of the ruling, former communist Social Democratic Party for almost four years. The Peasant Party recently called for the government to be dismissed, citing disagreements over agricultural policy. The president recommended that the party should withdraw the no-confidence vote and quit the coalition if it does not agree with government policies. Peasant Party leader Janusz Piechocinski said on 18 August that his party had collected enough signatures for the no-confidence motion and that he expects the parliament to take action this week. Opposition leaders have said they, too, will reject the no-confidence vote, which they regard as an attempt to increase support among farmers ahead of the 21 September general elections. ELEVEN FORMER AGENTS SEEK ELECTION TO POLISH PARLIAMENT. Eleven candidates in the 21 September elections have admitted working for the secret police during the communist era, the chairman of the electoral commission told journalists on 18 August. Five of those candidates are on lists of the Social Democratic Party. The Polish Peasant Party, the Union of the Polish Right, the Polish National Union, and the Party of Pensioners each have one former agent on their lists. Recently, two candidates competing for Senate seats, Gerhard Bartodziej of the German minority and Aleksander Gawronik, one of Poland's richest men, also confessed to having been agents under the Communists. A new lustration law obliges members of the parliament and the government, senior officials, and candidates for such posts to declare if they collaborated with the secret police between 1944 and 1990. No action is taken against those who confess, but anyone found to have lied risks being barred from public office for 10 years. CZECH PREMIER'S PARTY CONDEMNS RACISM. The Executive Council of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) on 18 August condemned "racially motivated statements" by some ODS members, "Pravo" reported. Senator Zdenk Klausner had recently suggested in a Prague newspaper that Roma residing in a Prague district be moved outside Prague. Liana Janackova, a district mayor in the city of Ostrava, had proposed that the city contribute to the cost of plane tickets for Roma who would like to emigrate to Canada. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told journalists after the meeting that the ODS is not asking the two officials to resign but is distancing itself from any statements by its members that could be interpreted as racist. U.S. ASKS SLOVAKIA, BULGARIA TO DESTROY SS-23 ROCKETS. U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said on 18 August that the U.S. is asking the Slovak and Bulgarian governments to destroy SS-23 rockets on their territories. He said the rockets are capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction. The Soviet Union supplied the rockets to Bulgaria and the former Czechoslovakia in the 1980s. Their destruction is called for by the 1988 Soviet-U.S. Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement. In July, the Bulgarian government said the rockets were part of the country's national security requirements and were a strong deterrent. But it also said that the country is reevaluating its national security strategy to take into account its wish to join the European security system and NATO. A spokesman at the Slovak Embassy in Washington declined to comment on what Rubin said, CTK reported. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ANOTHER SIX DEAD IN ALBANIAN GANG WARS. Gang members in the southern town of Perondi, near Berat, ambushed a rival group on 18 August. Six people were killed, bringing the total number of Albanians killed as a result of gang warfare in the past week to 18. The government has set deadlines for the return of illegal weapons, but disarming the gangs may prove a tall order (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1997). Meanwhile in Bari, Italy, the authorities said they finding it difficult to persuade the 10,000 Albanian refugees there on temporary visas to go home. Some 7,000 Albanians have simply gone underground, and many have turned to crime. Refugees in government shelters told journalists that they do not want to go back to a country where "everything has been burned" and where illegal arms abound. KOSOVO UPDATE. Vuk Draskovic, the Serbian Renewal Movement's candidate in the September Serbian presidential elections, said in Pristina on 18 August that Kosovo should receive back what he called its historical name, Old Serbia. Draskovic stressed that Kosovo is the historical Serbian heartland, but he added that "there is enough room for Albanians and Turks as well as Serbs." Kosovo elects 42 out of 250 seats in the Serbian parliament, but its Albanian majority is boycotting the elections. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told ethnic Albanian shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova on his recent visit to Washington that he should continue his policy of non-violence and that autonomy, not independence, is the only political option for Kosovo acceptable to the international community, Belgrade dailies reported on 19 August. In Pristina, Adem Demaci, the leader of the Parliamentary Party, said that the Kosovo question can be solved only on the basis of national self-determination. MONTENEGRIN COURT WARNS BELGRADE. The Montenegrin Constitutional Court warned its Yugoslav counterpart on 18 August that the Belgrade court will be violating federal law if it intervenes in the ongoing dispute regarding the registration of Montenegrin presidential candidates, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. In Belgrade, representatives of the five parties participating in the September elections each nominated a representative to the central electoral commission that will oversee the vote. In Vienna, Niels Helveg Petersen, chairman of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, said the body has agreed to the Serbian government's offer for the OSCE to monitor the vote. Vienna and Belgrade had disagreed on the terms under which the monitoring would take place. It is not yet clear what those terms will be. PLAVSIC FOES ARREST, THEN FREE HER POLICE CHIEF. Police loyal to the hard-line Republika Srpska Interior Minister Dragan Kijac in Pale arrested Milan Sutilovic in Banja Luka on 19 August. They freed him after he refused to sign a formal resignation. Embattled President Biljana Plavsic appointed Sutilovic police chief of the northwestern Bosnian town on 17 August. Her sacking of Kijac in June touched off the current power struggle among the Bosnian Serbs. Plavsic's offices in Banja Luka are surrounded by loyal soldiers and police. NATO troops recently prevented a clash between police loyal to Plavsic and those backing Kijac (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1997). REPUBLIKA SRPSKA POLICE SPIED ON PLAVSIC. President Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 18 August that evidence her supporters found in the local headquarters of Kijac's police the previous day proves that Kijac's men bugged her telephone, fax machine, and offices, as well as those of other opponents of the Pale leadership (see "RFE/RL Newsline." 18 August 1997). UN police also searched the headquarters and seized 200 tapes. One Western official said that Kijac's men had been "running an espionage center." International officials added that they are particularly interested in evidence that Kijac's police intimidated members of the Constitutional Court, which recently ruled against Plavsic. Transcripts of Plavsic's phone calls and faxed documents found at the police headquarters appeared in Belgrade and Sarajevo dailies on 19 August. OTHER NEWS FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA. Ivo Saraf, the Croatian mayor of the Bosnian town of Jajce, has limited the number of Muslims scheduled to return to the nearby village of Lendici to 80, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on 18 August. She added that Saraf's decision is arbitrary and violates the latest Croatian-Muslim accord on the return of refugees and that the UNHCR will appeal to the Sarajevo authorities to overrule him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1997). In the Olovo area, Bosnian Serb police released the five Muslims whom they had arrested the previous day. In Vukovar, William Walker, a U.S. diplomat, arrived to take up his duties as the UN's new chief administrator in eastern Slavonia. He said his chief concern will be the safe return of refugees to their homes. CROATIA READY TO SEND WAR CRIMINAL TO THE HAGUE. Spokesmen for the Croatian Justice Ministry said in Zagreb on 19 August that they have arrested Pero Skopljak and are holding him in a Zagreb prison pending his extradition to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. Skopljak was police chief in the central Bosnian town of Vitez during the war and is wanted in connection with atrocities against Muslims in 1992 and 1993. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic told his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, in Frankfurt on 16 August that seven Bosnian Croats are ready to go to The Hague if they can be assured of a speedy trial. It is unclear if he included Dario Kordic, the most wanted Croatian war criminal among the seven (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 August 1997). Croatia is under intense international pressure to observe its obligations under the Dayton agreement and hand over war criminals. ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS DEMAND ANTI-HUNGARIAN GUARD... In a declaration released on 18 August, the Bucharest branch of the anti-Hungarian Romanian Cradle organization called for establishing a "National Guard" of Romanian ethnics in Transylvania to defend the ethnic majority in the region against the Hungarian minority there, Radio Bucharest reported. The organization also demanded the dismissal of Victor Ciorbea's cabinet, sharply criticizing its decision to allow bilingual signs in localities where ethnic minorities make up at least 20 percent of the population and to amend the education law. The organization also called on President Emil Constantinescu to "analyze" the situation created by those policies and to avoid "a further escalation of 'Hungarianism' in Transylvania." ...PROTEST HUNGARY'S COMPENSATION LAW. The Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) has protested the law recently passed by the Hungarian parliament that provides compensation to Hungarian army veterans who were prisoners in the Soviet Union during World War II and to former Hungarian citizens deported to the Soviet Union, regardless of their current citizenship. PUNR leader Valeriu Tabara said that before paying compensation, Hungary should apologize to states and citizens of countries that suffered as a result of Hungary's wartime policies. Gheorghe Funar, the nationalist mayor of Cluj, said compensation will be given to those Hungarian Transylvanians who are guilty of crimes against Romanians. He also called on the Romanian government to urgently pass a law stipulating that those who were forced to Magyarize their names during Hungarian rule in Transylvania revert to their original names, Mediafax reported. MOLDOVA TO HOST CIS SUMMIT. Moldovan Deputy Foreign Minister Vasile Sova has confirmed that the next CIS summit will be held in Chisinau on 20 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1997), RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Foreign Ministry sources, however, said that it is unclear how the summit will be financed, since the Moldovan government lacks the necessary funds and does not have 12 limousines or 12 "presidential apartments." Moreover, Chisinau has not paid its debts to CIS, the sources added. GAGAUZ LEADERS OPPOSE LAW ON SALE OF LAND. Georgii Tabunshchik, the governor of Moldova's autonomous region of Gagauz Yeri, has said that the region's leadership will not allow the law on the sale of land to be implemented in the region, BASA-press reported on 18 August. The Moldovan parliament passed that law on 25 July. Tabunshchik said the sale of small plots would lead to the impoverishment of the population, because ownership of two or three hectares of land is economically unfeasible. In other news from Gagauz Yeri, Infotag reported on 18 August that the authorities banned an opposition rally in the regional capital, Comrat, to celebrate the seventh anniversary of the declaration of independence by the region. Ivan Bejan, a deputy in the Popular Assembly, told Infotag that the independent Gagauz republic ceased to exist in 1994 and therefore it does not make sense to celebrate the declaration of independence. BULGARIAN REACTOR IN TROUBLE AGAIN. Operators at Bulgaria's only nuclear power plant had to switch off an aging reactor on 18 August , after one of its two turbines stopped for unknown reasons, BTA reported. The malfunction occurred at the 23-year-old Unit 1, but no increased radiation was measured. The plant, which generates about 40 percent of Bulgaria's electricity, is located at Kozloduy, some 170 kilometers north of Sofia. The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna has repeatedly expressed concern about safety at Kozloduy, saying the four units of the plant are outdated. END NOTE FORGET THE FORMER SOVIET UNION by Paul Goble Six years after a failed coup in Moscow sent the Soviet Union toward its demise, many people around the world continue to search for a single term to describe the group of countries that emerged from the rubble. None of the terms proposed until now has proved entirely successful. And with each passing year, the search for such a term seems increasingly unnecessary, if not counterproductive. Among the terms most frequently suggested are the former Soviet Union, the new independent states, and Eurasia. But, like all other suggested terms, they fail to capture some important features of the new landscape and carry some significant political baggage. The term "former Soviet Union" is perhaps the most obviously problematic. The Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991; continuing to refer to it both diminishes the status of the successor states and encourages those in Russia and elsewhere who would like to restore the union. Equally important, it dramatically overstates the similarities among countries whose only real feature in common was Russian and Soviet occupation. While that had a major impact on each, it did not wipe out the differences increasingly on view. At first glance, the term "new independent states" appears to be more neutral; but, if anything, it is even more politically charged than the other two. Prior to the demise of the Soviet Union, no government in the world referred to independent countries arising from the ruins of empires as "new independent states." Instead, those countries were quickly viewed as countries much like all others. Consequently, the use of this term so long after the end of the USSR implies that the relationship between those countries and Moscow is somehow different. That has led many people in the region to wonder aloud whether their states are less equal than others. Both the citizens of those countries and others are beginning to ask just how long those countries will have to be "independent" before they cease to be "new." The term "Eurasia" also has some negative connotations, although they are perhaps less obvious. It indiscriminately lumps together countries that are definitely part of the European cultural world with some that most definitely are not. It also has a history that is anything but encouraging. One group of Russian nationalists popularized the term to suggest that Russia represented an amalgam of European and Asiatic civilizations and that it had a civilizing mission across the region. But if none of the terms advanced thus far is adequate, the continued search for one highlights three more fundamental problems. First, many people are unwilling to accept what happened in 1991 as an irreversible watershed in world history. When other empires dissolved in this century, few world leaders felt compelled to reiterate support for the independence and territorial integrity of their successors five years after the fact. No one was saying such things about the successors to the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, or Russian empires in 1924. But in the post-Soviet case, many leaders have done just that and thus have sent a message to those countries very different from the one they say they intend to send. Second, many people are unable to recognize how diverse the countries of the region are and how many now have far greater ties with countries beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union than with countries within those borders. Other than Russian and Soviet occupation, Armenia and Kazakhstan, for example, have little in common in almost any respect. And despite the impact of the past, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are both looking beyond the Soviet borders rather than to the former imperial center. Third, the search for a single term reflects an unwillingness on the part of some Westerners to challenge the desire of some Moscow circles to remain the dominant power in the region, regardless of the wishes of people in those countries. Through instruments such as the Commonwealth of Independent States and via statements about the relevance of the borders of the former Soviet Union, the Russian government has advanced a claim to a sphere of influence across the region. Such assertions make Western terminological discussions all the more important. To the extent that the West uses terms that imply the territory once occupied by the Soviet Union is a single region, some circles in Moscow will be encouraged to believe that the West has recognized Russian claims. To the extent that the West uses terms that treat the countries of the region as separate and unique states, each of those states will be encouraged to develop along its own lines. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx SUBSCRIBING: 1) To subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to email@example.com 2) In the text of your message, type subscribe RFERL-L YourFirstName YourLastName 3) Send the message UNSUBSCRIBING: 1) To un-subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org 2) In the text of your message, type unsubscribe RFERL-L 3) Send the message CURRENT AND BACK ISSUES OF RFE/RL Newsline: RFE/RL Newsline is available online on the World Wide Web. http://www.rferl.org/newsline/ BACK ISSUES OF OMRI Daily Digest: Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available on the World Wide Web and by FTP. 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