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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 103, Part II, 26 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 JOURNALIST FREED

* ALBRIGHT URGES MILOSEVIC TO BACK PLAVSIC

* MORE BOSNIAN SERB POLITICIANS ENDORSE PLAVSIC

End Note : CATCHING WAR CRIMINALS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN JOURNALIST FREED. Vladimir Kostin, a Belarusian member of the
Russian Public Television (ORT) crew that was detained by Belarusian
authorities on 15 August on charges of illegally crossing the
Belarusian-Lithuanian border, has been freed, RFE/RL's Minsk correspondent
reported on 25 August. The three Russian members of the crew were released on
22 August under pressure from Moscow. Two other ORT journalists, who were
arrested on the same charges in July, remain in detention. Both journalists
are Belarusian. Russian President Boris Yeltsin is also demanding their
release.

PRIMAKOV ORDERED TO "SETTLE" CONFLICT INVOLVING JOURNALISTS. Russian President
Boris Yeltsin on 25 August instructed Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov to fly to Minsk in the new few days to "bring to an end the matter
involving the [ORT] journalists," Russian news agencies reported. Foreign
Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin told Interfax that Primakov will
discuss "the entire scope of Russian-Belarusian relations" during his visit to
Minsk. The same day, Russian State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev revealed
documents recently given to him in Minsk by Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka. The documents include a letter signed by ORT journalist Anatolii
Adamchuk claiming that ORT executives instructed its journalists to cross the
Belarusian-Lithuanian border on 15 August in order to provoke a confrontation
with the Belarusian authorities. However, appearing on Ekho Moskvy, ORT news
director Andrei Vasilev denied that the network had instructed its journalists
to cross the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.

RUSSIA CRITICIZES NAVAL EXERCISES IN BLACK SEA. Russian Defense Minister Igor
Sergeev on 25 August criticized the "Sea Breeze 97" naval exercises off the
Crimean coast. ITAR-TASS quoted him as saying the exercises are "unjustified
and will not help build international trust." Sergeev is leaving for Kyiv on
26 August for talks with Ukrainian officials on Ukrainian-Russian cooperation.
Also on 25 August, the anti-NATO group in the Russian State Duma issued a
statement describing the exercises as an "action openly hostile to Russia,"
Interfax reported. It threatened to call for Russia's withdrawal from the
Partnership for Peace program. The statement was signed by commission chairman
and Duma Deputy Chairman Sergei Baburin. The anti-NATO group consists of 254
deputies in the 450-member Duma.

PROTESTS IN CRIMEA AGAINST EXERCISES. Some 2,000 Crimea residents on 25 August
protested against the "Sea Breeze 97" exercises, ITAR-TASS reported.
Protesters also denounced Ukraine's warming ties with NATO. Russia opposes the
exercises as a threat to its security and has repeatedly declined Ukraine's
invitation to take part or send observers. Protesters included Russian
nationalists and war veterans who carried red Soviet flags and banners bearing
anti-NATO and anti-U.S. slogans. U.S., Turkish, Ukrainian, Georgian, Romanian,
and Bulgarian ships are participating in the exercises, which started on 24
August at the Black Sea port in Donuzlav, on Crimea's western coast.

IMF APPROVES STAND-BY LOAN FOR UKRAINE. The IMF on 25 August approved a $542
million stand-by loan to Ukraine. The fund said it would provide some $49
million immediately and release the remainder in installments over the next
year, provided Kyiv carries out promised economic reforms. A larger $2.5-3
billion loan was put on hold earlier this year because the IMF considered that
Kyiv's economic reforms were not moving fast enough. The one-year stand-by
loan will support the government's 1997-1998 economic program, which aims to
consolidate the progress already made and to reduce inflation from 40 percent
in 1996 to 15 percent in 1997 and 12 percent in 1998. To achieve those
objectives, the budget deficit will be limited to 4.6 percent of GDP in 1997
and 4.5 percent in 1998, the IMF said.

FINNISH PREMIER UNDERLINES NORDIC SUPPORT FOR BALTIC INTEGRATION. In his
opening address to the Nordic Council security conference in Helsinki, Paavo
Lipponen said the council supports the integration of the Baltic States into
NATO and the EU, according to BNS and ETA on 25 August. Lipponen stressed that
the Baltic States have the right to select their own security priorities.
While praising the Russia-NATO Founding Act as a "stabilizing factor," he
rebuffed Russian demands to a "right of veto on Baltic and other countries'
NATO aspirations." Lipponen also argued that "it is in everybody's common
interests that NATO enlargement not become an issue of contention that might
put the Baltic Sea countries' unity to the test." Delegates from the Nordic
countries, the Baltic States, Russia, Poland, and Germany are taking part in
the two-day meeting.

LITHUANIAN OFFICIAL EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER NEO-NAZIS. First Deputy Speaker
Andrius Kubilius has sent a letter to the national security department and the
Prosecutor-General's Office asking them to determine whether the activities of
a local neo-Nazi organization can be considered criminal, ITAR-TASS reported
on 25 August. Kubilius said the Union for National and Social Unity of
Lithuania (UNCUL) has published articles in its own publication that
"encourage ethnic strife." He argued that those articles provide evidence that
the UNCUL engages in "anti-constitutional activities aimed at igniting hatred
toward non-indigenous people living in Lithuania." The UNCUL has some 400
members, most of whom are between 20 and 30 years old.

POLISH PRESIDENT DENIES CONTACT WITH KGB AGENT. Aleksander Kwasniewski on 25
August denied that he met with a Russian intelligence officer three years ago.
He threatened to sue the conservative daily "Zycie" over the allegations,
while presidential spokesman Antoni Styrczula told a news conference that the
allegations are a "pack of lies" and part of a pre-election campaign to
discredit the ruling party of former communists, with which Kwasniewski is
closely linked. The Russian intelligence officer and businessman named by
"Zycie" is Vladimir Alganov, who also figured in allegations that forced
former communist Jozef Oleksy to resign as prime minister in January 1996.
"Zycie" alleged that Kwasniewski (who became president in late 1995) met with
Alganov when the two stayed in the same hotel in the Baltic resort of Cetniewo
from 5-15 August 1994. The daily printed hotel bills signed separately by the
two men. But according to Styrczula, Kwasniewski left the resort on 3 August
and therefore could not have met Alganov.

CZECH PREMIER REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM OF CITIZENSHIP LAW. Vaclav Klaus on 25
August rejected a call from the U.S. Congressional Committee on Security and
Cooperation in Europe that the Czech Republic revise its citizenship law,
which the committee says has an adverse effect on the Romani minority. The
committee had sent a letter addressed to Klaus and signed by the committee's
Republican joint chairmen, Senator Alfonso D'Amato and member of the House of
Representatives Christopher H. Smith. Klaus told journalists that "the picture
painted in this letter is simplistic and inaccurate." He said it would be
necessary to explain the situation in the Czech Republic once again, as it was
obvious that previous explanations had not been understood. "This letter uses
the same old arguments that the government has encountered for four or five
years," Klaus said. Later the same day, the premier left for a private visit
to the U.S., where he is to deliver several lectures.

U.S. PRESIDENT SUPPORTS SLOVAKIA'S INTEGRATION EFFORTS. In a letter to Slovak
President Michal Kovac, U.S. President Bill Clinton says the United States
encourages Slovakia's "further international engagement" and "ultimate
integration" into trans-Atlantic and European structures, Slovak Radio
reported. The letter, which was handed to Kovac on 25 August by the U.S.
Ambassador to Bratislava Ralph Johnson, noted that Americans join in
congratulating Slovakia on the occasion of its national holiday on 1
September--the Constitution Day. It said that Slovakia has made significant
advances in its short history as an independent country and that it has one of
the highest economic growth rates in Europe. The letter added that the U.S.
hopes Slovakia will continue to strengthen its democratic practices and
commitment to the rule of law, ethnic tolerance, and support for human rights.

LUXEMBOURG PREMIER AGAINST PUBLICLY LECTURING SLOVAKIA. Jean-Claude Juncker
said in Prague on 25 August that he opposes publicly lecturing Slovakia in
connection with its problems related to Western integration, CTK reported.
Luxembourg is currently chairing the EU, which has pointed out that Slovakia
is experiencing difficulties implementing democracy and human and ethnic
minority rights. "But does that mean Slovakia always has to be excluded from
the EU?" Juncker asked in a lecture entitled "The European Union after the end
of the Intergovernmental Conference." "I am against publicly lecturing
Slovakia," he added, clearly alluding to the position of some foreign leaders.

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PUSH FOR REFERENDUM ON LAND OWNERSHIP. Zsolt Arato, the
press secretary of the opposition Alliance of Young Democrats, has announced
that nearly 100,000 signatures have already been collected in support of a
referendum on the law allowing foreign companies registered in Hungary to own
land, "Nepszabadsag" reported on 26 August. The opposition is strongly opposed
to that law. Under current legislation, 200,000 signatures are necessary in
order to hold a referendum (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August 1997). But Peter
Hack, chairman of the parliamentary Constitutional Commission and a member of
the Free Democrats, the junior coalition partner, pointed that the law
stipulates that commitments undertaken in international treaties cannot be
subject to a plebiscite.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBRIGHT URGES MILOSEVIC TO BACK PLAVSIC. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright told Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by telephone on 25 August
that he should stop being neutral in his public statements on the Bosnian Serb
power struggle. She urged him instead to unambiguously support Republika
Srpska President Biljana Plavsic. A State Department spokesman added that U.S.
envoy Robert Gelbard will soon make the same points to Milosevic in person in
Belgrade. Most observers feel that Milosevic still has enough political
influence among the Bosnian Serbs to settle their dispute, even though he has
been feuding in public with both Plavsic and Radovan Karadzic since 1993.
There are still strong political, economic, and military links between
Milosevic and Karadzic's backers, who are led by Momcilo Krajisnik, the
Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency. But either Bosnian Serb
faction could embarrass Milosevic by publicly disclosing information about his
role in the war.

PLAVSIC TELLS BOSNIAN SERB ARMY TO STAY OUT OF POLITICS. President Plavsic
said in Banja Luka on 25 August that the Bosnian Serb army (VRS) should not
take sides in the ongoing power struggle and that its duty is to defend the
entire people, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the northwestern Bosnian
city. She added that she expects the general staff to acknowledge her
constitutional authority as president when she meets with top VRS leaders on
26 August. Plavsic can probably count on the backing of the Banja Luka-based
First Krajina Army Corps, but the general staff appears to be politically
closer to the hard-liners in Pale than to her.

MORE BOSNIAN SERB POLITICIANS ENDORSE PLAVSIC. Republika Srpska Vice President
Dragoljub Mirjanic on 25 August ended his support for Pale and publicly
endorsed Plavsic as well as her decision to dissolve the parliament and call
early elections. Several members of the parliament, including three deputies
of the governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), also said they recognize her
decision and will not take part in the legislative session that her rivals
have called for 26 August, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Banja Luka.
The Muslim members of the parliament have already said they will not attend
the meeting. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, Carlos Westendorp, the international
community's chief representative in Bosnia, has threatened to ban
international travel for Serbian members of joint institutions unless they
stop obstructing legislation on joint citizenship and passports.

BOMB ATTACK ON KOSOVO POLICE STATION. Unidentified persons threw a bomb at and
opened fire on a police station near Decani on 25 August. The police returned
fire but the attackers escaped. It was the fourth attack on the station in
four years, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pristina. In the village of
Zub, near the Albanian border, local Albanians blamed armed gangs from across
the frontier for the death of one Kosovar and the wounding of another on 24
August, BETA reported from Pristina. Spokesmen for local people urged the
Albanian authorities to bring the gangs under control. Meanwhile in Podgorica,
representatives of six Montenegrin opposition parties, including the
Democratic Union of Albanians, said they will not participate in the
presidential elections slated for 5 October. Spokesmen said that conditions
will not ensure a fair vote, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica.

MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT SAYS ALBANIANS WANT TO SECEDE. Kiro Gligorov told the 25
August issue of the Belgrade weekly "Ekonomska politika" that all the ethnic
Albanian parties in Macedonia want to secede from that state. He added that,
as first step on the road to secession, they want to rewrite the constitution
to establish a special status for western Macedonia, where most of Macedonia's
Albanians live. He denounced calls by ethnic Albanian leaders for local
governments in western Macedonia to use the Albanian flag. Gligorov
nonetheless distanced himself from a recent court decision against displaying
the Albanian flag from public buildings and disclaimed responsibility for a
police crackdown on Albanians in Gostivar and Tetovo following the court
ruling. Gligorov also pointed out that Albanian politicians are assured of a
role in any Macedonian government, because non-Albanian parties cannot form a
working majority without the Albanians.

ALBANIA'S BERISHA WANTS GUARANTEED AIR TIME. Former President Sali Berisha
demanded on 25 August that state television devote one-third of its political
programming to the views of the opposition parties. When Berisha was
president, state television presented mainly the views of his Democratic
Party. Meanwhile, the health of former parliamentary speaker and Democratic
Party member Pjeter Arbnori is deteriorating as he enters the seventh day of a
hunger strike (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August 1997). He also wants state
television to give the opposition one-third of air-time, "Albania" reported on
26 August.

SPLIT IN ALBANIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY DEEPENS. The number of Democratic Party
members who have signed a petition calling for the resignation of party leader
and former President Sali Berisha has risen to 230. Arben Mece, one of the
initiators of the drive, said he had received support from other smaller
conservative parties, "Dita Informacion" reported on 26 August. One such
party, the Movement of Democracy Party, said in a declaration that it will
consider uniting with the Democratic Party once Berisha is sacked.

ALBANIAN PROSECUTOR ISSUES WARRANT FOR ZOGU. The Prosecutor-General's Office
on 25 August issued an international arrest warrant for claimant to the throne
Leka Zogu and his aide Abedin Mulosmani. The move comes in connection with a
rally in Tirana on 3 July, at which a shoot-out took place and at which Zogu
and others were armed, "Dita Informacion" reported. Meanwhile, the
government's deadline for Democratic Party members to return weapons that
police gave them in the spring ran out at midnight on 26 August (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 18 August 1997). Only about two-thirds of the weapons issued in
Tirana have been returned, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Meanwhile in Vlora,
both the prison and the Prosecutor's Office have resumed work, "Koha Jone"
wrote. And in Tirana, the trial of 11 members of the Vlora-based Zani Caushi
gang started on 25 August, "Dita Informacion" reported.

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION FAILS IN BID FOR SPECIAL PARLIAMENTARY SESSION. The
Standing Bureaus of Romania's two chambers of the parliament on 25 August
separately discussed and rejected an opposition demand for a special
parliamentary session to discuss the memorandum signed with the IMF, the
closure of 16 loss-making state enterprises, and the amended education and
local government laws, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The local
government law allows bilingual signs in localities where national minorities
make up at least 20 percent of the population (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21
August 1997). In related news, the Bucharest Appeals Court rejected an appeal
by the Party of Romanian National Unity against amendments to both laws. The
court said a political party is not entitled to contest before the court
decisions taken by the government.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DISMISSES PROSECUTOR-GENERAL. Emil Constantinescu on 25
August dismissed Nicolae Cochinescu at the recommendation of Justice Minister
Valeriu Stoica, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Cochinescu, who had been
appointed by former President Ion Iliescu in September 1996, opposed a law on
the reorganization of the judicial system passed by the parliament in early
July. He also said he would resign if the law was approved. The new law came
into force on 25 August, and a few days earlier Cochinescu retracted his
intention to resign. His mandate would have run out in September 2000. Stoica
said that Cochinescu blocked investigations into the December 1989 shooting at
anti-communist demonstrators and the miners' rampages in Bucharest in 1990 and
1991. He also accused Cochinescu of appealing court decisions on property
restitution and of hindering investigations of the illegal adoption of
children by foreigners.

MOLDOVAN HOLY SYNOD WARNS AGAINST RECOGNITION OF BESSARABIAN CHURCH. In a 25
August declaration, the Holy Synod of the Moldovan Orthodox Church warned the
government not to register the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church. The previous
week, the Chisinau Court of Appeals had ruled that the Church be registered
(see "RFE/RL Newsline, 20 and 21 August 1995). The synod reiterated
Metropolitan Vladimir's warning against a schism in the Orthodox Church in
Moldova. It added that if the Bessarabian Church were recognized, there would
be a split between Romanian and non-Romanian Orthodox believers and further
splits along national affiliations. The synod also said the dispute should be
solved in parleys between the Romanian and the Russian Orthodox Churches,
RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. On 26 August, some 100 priests demonstrated
in Chisinau against the recognition of the Bessarabian Church. A delegation
representing them was received by President Petru Lucinschi, Radio Bucharest
reported.

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON FUTURE OF ARMED FORCES. Lucinschi has said that Moldova
must have a "small, well-equipped, and mobile army whose tasks are defensive."
The president was speaking on 24 August following a visit to several military
units, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Lucinschi said armament that is not
needed by the armed forces must be sold, particularly MiG-29 fighters, which
are expensive to maintain and unnecessary for the country's defensive
strategy. He said they should be replaced by helicopters, which can be used
also for non-military purposes.

BULGARIA CUTS MILITARY SPENDING. Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev announced on
25 August that the cabinet has approved amendments to the Defense and Armed
Forces Law to cut conscript military service from 18 to 12 months beginning 1
January 1998, Reuters reported. Conscription for university graduates will be
reduced from 12 to nine months. The amendments have still to be approved by
the parliament. The amended legislation also envisages the gradual
transformation of the conscript army into a professional force by 2010.

END NOTE

Catching War Criminals

by Patrick Moore

        Scarcely a day seems to pass without some story appearing in the news to
suggest that NATO troops in Bosnia may soon try to catch Radovan Karadzic or
other prominent war criminals and bring them to justice in The Hague. The
latest round of stories began on 10 July, when British SFOR troops went after
two prominent Bosnian Serb war criminals in the Prijedor region. One of the
two was killed when he resisted arrest, but the other is now in The Hague.
        Since that raid, prominent officials -- notably U.S. envoys Richard Holb
 rooke
and Robert Gelbard -- have made frequent statements suggesting that additional
war criminals are about to be caught. There have been, moreover, calculated
leaks to Western media that NATO commandos are training to go after Karadzic
or that a recent SFOR exercise near Pale was actually a "dress rehearsal" for
a planned operation to arrest Karadzic.
        Some observers have suggested that such statements are simply a bluff
designed to intimidate Karadzic and that the Western powers have no more
intention of risking casualties now than they had in the 18 months since the
signing of the Dayton agreement, during which they avoided contact with armed
war criminals. Other observers point out that it would cost NATO credibility
throughout the former Yugoslavia and perhaps elsewhere, too, to raise
expectations but do nothing.
        The issue of bringing indicted war criminals to justice is, in any event
 ,
central to the civilian provisions of the Dayton agreement. But whereas NATO
has fairly rigorously enforced the military aspects of that treaty, most of
the civilian provisions -- including the rights of freedom of movement and of
refugees to go home -- remain a dead letter. The treaty further calls for the
establishment of joint Bosnian institutions in what is supposed to be one
state consisting of the Republika Srpska and the mainly Croatian and Muslim
Federation. The civilian provisions also include trials for war criminals.
        The reason for bringing such people to justice is the one given by the A
 llies
at the end of World War II, namely that the crimes of guilty individuals must
be brought to light and those persons duly tried and sentenced if societies as
a whole are to make a new beginning and put the war behind them. In other
words, Karadzic, Gen. Ratko Mladic, and several dozen other individuals must
go to The Hague lest the Serbs as a people continue to be demonized by many in
the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere for war crimes.
        One reason for the timing of the latest talk about catching war criminal
 s is
that the Clinton administration has realized that time is running out on the
Dayton agreement: SFOR's mandate is valid for less than one more year. Another
reason is that, with the 14 September local elections approaching , the
international community is anxious to reduce the political influence of
Karadzic and the other key war criminals on all sides.
        Accordingly, Holbrooke and other diplomats have put pressure on Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman to hand over indicted Croats to The Hague. Top
Croatian officials have said that at least one prominent war criminal might be
put on a plane to Holland within days, but so far none has gone. It is unclear
to what extent Holbrooke and the other diplomats have sought to have possible
Muslim war criminals arrested, but Serbs and Croats alike charge that the
court has not indicted a sufficient number of Muslims.
        But it would be wrong to say that the arrest and trial of Karadzic would
solve Bosnia's problems, as some press accounts suggest. It is also unlikely,
given his record for lying to foreigners, that the court would ever extract
the whole truth from him. The trial of Karadzic would nonetheless be an
important step toward clarifying the historical record and establishing
justice.


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