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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 99, Part II, 20 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

*BELARUSIAN POLICE QUESTION RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS


*UN POLICE SEAL OFF BANJA LUKA POLICE STATIONS


*ALBANIAN PRESIDENT SACKS ARMY CHIEF


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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN POLICE QUESTION RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS. The
Belarusian KGB on 19 August called three journalists to testify in the
case of the four Russian Public Television (ORT) journalists detained
near the Belarusian-Lithuanian border on 15 August, RFE/RL's Minsk
correspondent reported. Those called to give testimony are ORT
reporter Viktor Detlyakovich; Dmitri Novozhilov, the head of the ORT
Minsk bureau; and Reuters correspondent Andrei Makhovsky, who
also works for Belarus's "Delovaya Gazeta." Another Russian
journalist, ORT reporter Vladimir Foshenko, was detained on 18
August for refusing to testify, Belapan reported. Russian Ambassador
to Belarus Valery Loschinin said on 19 August that Moscow is now
demanding that Minsk release the journalists, regardless of whether
they broke the law.

GDP IN UKRAINE, RUSSIA DECREASES. The Ukrainian Ministry of
Statistics on 19 August reported that of the 11 CIS states, only
Ukraine and Russia registered a decrease in gross domestic product
in the first half of 1997, compared with the same period last year,
Infobank reported. Ukraine's GDP fell by 7.4 percent, whereas
Russia's was down 0.2 percent. During the same period, industrial
production fell in Armenia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, and Moldova but rose
by 22 percent in Kyrgyzstan, the highest increase within the CIS
states. With the exception of Belarus and Georgia, all CIS states
registered a decrease in the production of consumer goods. Food
production in Belarus increased by 16 percent and non-food
production by 32 percent.

ESTONIAN COMMISSION TO CONSIDER ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM.
The government on 19 August formed a five-member commission,
headed by Prime Minister Mart Siimann, to consider a proposal for
administrative reform, ETA reported. In January, Economy Minister
Jaak Leimann, Transport and Communications Minister Raivo Vare,
and Finance Minister Mart Opmann had proposed reducing the
number of parliamentary deputies from 101 to 71, merging several
ministries, and having only four local governments. The reform
would save an estimated 500 million kroons ($36 million) a year.

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT LIFTS DEPUTY'S IMMUNITY. Lawmakers
on 19 August voted unanimously to strip independent deputy and
former Defense Minister Audrius Butkevicius of his parliamentary
immunity, BNS and dpa reported. Prosecutor-General Kazys Pednycia
had requested such a move against Butkevicius, who is suspected of
accepting a $15,000 bribe from businessman Klemensas Kirsa in
return for pressing for the dismissal of a legal case involving Kirsa's
company, Dega Ltd (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August 1997).
Pednycia said his office will immediately launch legal proceedings
against Butkevicius. The 37-year-old deputy has admitted taking the
money from Kirsa but claims it was a personal loan.

IMMINENT SPLIT WITHIN POLISH COALITION?. The Polish Peasant
Party (PSL) on 19 August submitted a parliamentary no-confidence
motion against Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz of the post-
communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), PAP reported. The two
parties have been coalition partners for almost four years. The PSL
said Cimoszewicz must go because he has blocked a decision to grant
advance payments to farmers for the 1997 harvest. Other parties see
the move as an attempt to boost the PSL's dwindling popularity
ratings ahead of the 21 September elections. Jozef Oleksy of the SLD
said the move was likely to lead to the breakup of the coalition.

POLISH PRESIDENT IN SLOVAKIA. Aleksander Kwasniewski arrived
in Bratislava on 20 August for a two-day official visit, Slovak Radio
reported. The visit was scheduled to take place in July but was
postponed owing to widespread flooding in the south of Poland.
Kwasniewski last met with his Slovak counterpart, Michal Kovac, at a
meeting of eight Central European presidents in Slovenia in early
June. Kwasniewski is scheduled to meet with Kovac, Slovak Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar, and other officials.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION REQUESTS PARLIAMENT SESSION ON OUSTED
DEPUTY. The opposition on 19 August requested that the parliament
hold a special session to discuss the case of deputy Frantisek
Gaulieder, who was stripped of his mandate in 1996. The Slovak
Constitutional Court in July ruled that the parliament violated
Gaulieder's constitutional rights. Gaulieder was forced to leave after
the parliament received a resignation letter allegedly from him but
which he says was forged. Gaulieder quit Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia one month before he
was dismissed from the parliament, which is dominated by the ruling
party.

SLOVAKIA, BULGARIA REFUSE TO DESTROY SS-23 MISSILES.
Responding to the U.S.'s request that Slovakia and Bulgaria destroy
their short-range SS-23 missiles (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August
1997), a Slovak Defense Ministry spokesman said Bratislava does not
plan to eliminate its missiles. Slovakia says the weapons play an
integral role in the country's defense. TASR on 19 August quotes the
spokesman as saying that the elimination of the missiles would "have
to be a political decision" resolved on the basis of compensation.
However, another government spokesman was quoted as saying
Bratislava was still willing to discuss the matter with Washington. A
Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on 19 August that
scrapping Bulgaria's eight SS-23s would not be "in the national
interest."

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UN POLICE SEAL OFF BANJA LUKA POLICE STATIONS. The
International Police Task Force (IPTF) and SFOR took charge of six
police stations in Banja Luka on 20 August. IPTF spokesmen said that
the UN police believe the buildings may have been the site of human
rights violations. The stations belong to the police loyal to Pale-based
Interior Minister Dragan Kijac, an arch-rival of Republika Srpska
President Biljana Plavsic (see also "RFE/RL Bosnia Report," 20 August
1997). On 18 August, Plavsic said that her police found large
quantities of incriminating evidence in one of the stations. She added
that one document referred to a secret political command called
"Jedinstvo [Unity] 97," of which she had not previously known. She
called this and other revelations "frightening."

WESTENDORP, GELBARD BACK PLAVSIC'S CALL FOR NEW ELECTIONS.
Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief
representative in Bosnia, underscored Plavsic's demand that Kijac be
fired. The Spanish diplomat and U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard called for
new elections in the Republika Srpska following their meeting with
Plavsic in Banja Luka on 19 August. The diplomats said a new vote is
the best way to solve the leadership crisis among the Bosnian Serbs.
Plavsic plans to head a new party in parliamentary elections she has
called for October. In the past week, Deputy Prime Ministers Ostoja
Kremenovic and Djuradj Banjac have signaled their support for her
and her party. Meanwhile in Pale, Dragan Kalinic, the president of the
parliament, said there should be new presidential elections if Plavsic
insists on going ahead with a legislative vote.

PLAVSIC CALLS FOR DAILY DEMONSTRATIONS. President Plavsic told
2,000 of her supporters in Banja Luka on 19 August that they should
assemble every evening to protest against the Pale-based "hawks"
and their policy of "terror." She said that Kijac's police "are bugging
your homes and tapping your telephones. You have no privacy. They
are using the instruments of black terror.... Don't give your town to
tyrants. We want freedom." But Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian
member of the Bosnian joint presidency, warned that "if Mrs. Plavsic
continues to heed her so-called advisers, she risks being isolated....
There is no force in the world that can save her."

OTHER NEWS FROM BOSNIA. An SFOR spokesman in Banja Luka said
on 19 August that peacekeepers there have received reinforcements,
an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the northwestern town.
Republika Srpska Finance Minister Ranko Travar handed in his
resignation to Plavsic, saying he can no longer deal with the current
crisis. In Sarajevo, Gelbard read out a statement from U.S. envoy
Richard Holbrooke, who stressed Washington's long-term
commitment to Bosnia.

CROATIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR PARTY CONGRESS. Drazen
Budisa, one of the two main protagonists for the leadership of the
Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), said in Zagreb on 19 August that
a "special party assembly" is the only way out of the deadlock
between him and former presidential candidate Vlado Gotovac.
Budisa added that the meeting's main task will be to set up new
elections for the party leadership, an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from the Croatian capital. Budisa charged that Gotovac and his
loyalists have hijacked the leadership.

UN ENDS WEAPONS BUY-UP IN EASTERN SLAVONIA. Spokesmen for
the UN administration in eastern Slavonia said in Vukovar on 19
August that the policy of buying up weapons has come to an end, and
that as of 20 August anyone found in possession of illegal weapons
will face prosecution. The spokesmen added that the buy-up
program yielded 6,370 rocket or mine launchers, 14,000 grenades
and bombs, and 2 million pieces of ammunition, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Vukovar. Critics charge that the UN
paid for obsolete weapons and that some of the sellers bought better
weapons with the money they received.

NEWS FROM KOSOVO, MACEDONIA. The Kosovo Information Center on
19 August said that unknown persons shot and wounded Elez Miftari
near Djakovica the previous night. The center is close to the
Democratic League of Kosovo of shadow-state President Ibrahim
Rugova. In Skopje, the Foreign Ministry said it opposes any reduction
in the number of UN peacekeepers in Macedonia. UN Secretary-
General Kofi Annan has recommended cutting the force from 1,000 to
300 troops. BETA news agency says the government fears that
Annan's proposal reflects a loss of confidence in the executive's
willingness to reach a lasting settlement with the large ethnic
Albanian minority. Also in Skopje, Transportation Minister
Abdulmenaf Bedzeti said that a French firm has offered to help
finance the proposed east-west railroad line across Macedonia. That
railroad would greatly reduce Macedonia's economic and political
dependence on Greece and Serbia, which control the existing north-
south routes.

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT SACKS ARMY CHIEF. President Rexhep
Mejdani sacked army commander Gen. Adem Copani on 19 August
and replaced him with Aleks Andoni. Defense Minister Sabit Brokaj
recently called for the resignation or dismissal of officers whom he
claimed the previous government had used to suppress
demonstrations against President Sali Berisha. The Socialist-led
government says it is trying to rid the judiciary, security forces, and
military of incompetent political appointees and replace them with
what it calls "experienced" personnel. The opposition Democrats
charge that the Socialists are carrying out a political purge. Some
observers feel that the Socialists are reverting to the practice in
which the party in power appoints its loyalists to all government jobs
(see "End Note" in "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August 1997).

ALBANIAN UPDATE. A shoot-out near Erseka, close to the
Macedonian and Greek borders, left two gangsters dead and three
other gangsters and two policemen wounded on 19 August.
Meanwhile in Gjirokastra, parliamentary speaker Skender Gjinushi
said the government's "intention is to provide the country with a
[new] constitution. And this intention will be realized at the
beginning of next year, by mid-February." He added that a
committee is already working on the document, which the
government will then submit to a popular referendum. Berisha failed
in a 1994 referendum to win approval for his proposed basic law.

ROMANIA CREATES NEW STATE OIL COMPANY. The government on
19 August abolished the Romanian Petroleum Company, set up by
Nicolae Vacaroiu's cabinet last year, and replaced it with the National
Petroleum Society (SNP). The new company merges two refineries
and the state-owned Peco gas stations, which account for some 43
percent of the country's retail gasoline sales. The two refineries will
have an annual capacity of some 6 millions tons; the other five
million tons needed to cover country's total needs will be imported,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The government intends to
privatize the SNP in the second half of 1998. In other news, Finance
Minister Mircea Ciumara told RFE/RL on 19 August that the ministry
will be reorganized to improve control over tax control and customs,
in particular.

UPDATE ON TRIAL OF ROMANIAN MINERS' LEADER. Senate Chairman
Petre Roman on 19 August told a Bucharest court that in September
1991, when he was prime minister, he had approved the arrival of
the Jiu valley miners in the capital after he was informed that they
were threatening train attendants with knives. Roman said he had
agreed with former President Ion Iliescu that the government would
"return its mandate" and be reshuffled to include other political
forces. Instead, Iliescu had announced that he was accepting Roman's
resignation. Roman also noted that the miners had been
"manipulated." Miners leader Miron Cozma, who is charged with
undermining state authority and breaking firearms laws, said his
trial was "political" Romanian media reported. He also agreed with
members of the public who shouted that Iliescu should join Cozma in
the dock.

ROMANIAN ULTRA-NATIONALIST INVITES LE PEN, LEBED. Corneliu
Vadim Tudor, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Greater Romania
Party (PRM), has invited French National Front chairman Jean-Marie
Le Pen and former Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed to attend the PRM congress in November. Le Pen canceled a
visit in May owing to the early French elections. At that time, Tudor
announced the "imminent birth of a Nationalist International" (see
"RFE/RL Newsline, 1 and 11 April 1997). After visiting Bucharest
earlier this year, front deputy chairman Dominique Chaboche said
the PRM and the front were "ideologically tied" in the struggle
against a United Europe and the idea of "globalization dictated by the
U.S." Tudor said he invited Lebed because he has a good chance of
becoming the next Russian president and is among those with whom
Tudor can discuss the reunification of Bessarabia and northern
Bukovina (now part of Moldova and Ukraine) with Romania.

MOLDOVAN COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF BESSARABIAN CHURCH. The
Chisinau Court of Appeal on 19 August ruled that the government
must recognize the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 7 and 14 August 1997). RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau
reported that the government can appeal the decision within 15
days. The government has refused to recognize the Bessarabian
Church, which is subordinated to the Bucharest patriarchate. It
recognizes only the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which is
subordinated to the Moscow patriarchate. The Bessarabian Church
claims some 400,000 believers.

MOLDOVAN DEPUTY PREMIER PREDICTS ECONOMIC GROWTH. Ion
Gucu told ITAR-TASS on 19 August that Moldova will have to wait
until the second decade of the next century to achieve economic
growth comparable to the level 10 years ago. He said his forecast was
based on calculations made by government experts. He added that he
believes 1997 will be a turning point in the Moldovan economy,
bringing to an end several years of decline. Gucu said the slight rise
in production registered in the second quarter of 1997 was due to
the resumption of economic reforms following the halt caused by the
1996 presidential campaign. Moldovan Academy of Sciences experts,
on the other hand, believe without major foreign investments, the
economy will continue to stagnate in the near future.

TURKEY WANTS PLANT IN BULGARIA REOPENED. Turkey is trying to
persuade the Bulgarian authorities to reopen an electronic
components plant that was closed in July, Turkish media reported on
20 August. Osman Ak, chairman of the Turkish company that has a
majority share in the Mikroark plant in the Bulgarian city of
Botevgrad, says the plant's closure is threatening to discourage
foreign investment in Bulgaria and is straining ties between Ankara
and Sofia, A Bulgarian court ordered Mikroark shut down on 18 July,
after a government-appointed trustee found that the agreement to
establish the factory in 1992 was signed by the deputy minister of
industry rather than the minister. Under Bulgarian law, the minister
must sign such an agreement. Ak said the trustee was a member of
the former communist establishment, which, he added, wants to
torpedo foreign investments in Bulgaria.


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               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
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