|When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 122, Part II, 22 September 1997
A daily report of developments in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at RFE/RL's Web site: http://www.rferl.org/newsline xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II *SOLIDARITY-LED PARTY CLAIMS VICTORY IN POLISH ELECTIONS *LOW TURNOUT IN SERBIAN ELECTIONS *ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CONTINUES PROTESTS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE SOLIDARITY ELECTORAL ACTION PARTY CLAIMS VICTORY. According to preliminary results, Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) won 33.8 percent of the vote in the 21 September parliamentary elections, Polish Television reported. The Democratic Left Alliance, which was the largest party in the parliament before the elections, won 26.8 percent. The Freedom Union came in third with 13.4 percent. The AWS has announced that once those results are confirmed, it will enter into coalition talks with the Freedom Union. If the center-right Solidarity party succeeds in forming a government with other minority parties, it will face a period of cohabitation with President Aleksandr Kwasniewski, a former communist. ISRAEL EXPECTS POLAND TO HONOR WEAPONS ACCORD. Despite U.S. pressure on Warsaw to buy Boeing equipment, Israel expects that the Polish government will honor its contracts to buy helicopter weaponry and avionics worth nearly $1 billion, according to "The New York Times" on 21 September. But the likely change in government in Poland may change that situation, especially since the U.S.-produced equipment is more compatible with NATO standards than are the Israeli weapons the Poles had agreed to buy. UNCTAD ASSESSES 1996 FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN EAST. A UN Agency for Trade and Development report on foreign investment in 1996 puts Poland at the top of a list of former Eastern bloc recipients of foreign direct investment, Reuters reported on 22 September. Poland is followed by Hungary, Russia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Direct investment in Georgia, Armenia, Lithuania, and Latvia rose in 1996,. compared with the previous year, but fell in Estonia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. MINSK REJECTS EU CRITICISM. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry on 19 September rejected the EU's criticism of Minsk's human rights record as unacceptable interference in the country's internal affairs, Interfax-West reported. The statement came in response to an EU declaration on 15 September criticizing Minsk for its actions against journalists and reconfirming the sanctions on Belarus that the EU had imposed earlier. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS EAST EUROPEAN SEAT ON UN SECURITY COUNCIL. Before his departure for New York to attend the UN General Assembly annual session, Leonid Kuchma said he will propose creating a permanent seat for Eastern Europe on the UN Security Council, ITAR-TASS reported on 21 September. The Ukrainian leader also said he will press the UN to cut Kyiv's annual dues to the organization. While in New York, Kuchma is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Bill Clinton and other world leaders. UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT BACKS TARIFF BREAK FOR DAEWOO. Lawmakers voted by 234 to 25 to free foreign companies investing more than $150 million in the Ukrainian automobile industry from import duties and tariffs for the next 10 years, Ukrainian Television reported on 19 September. Kuchma is expected to sign the bill, which observers regard as aimed at benefiting the Daewoo Group. The South Korean company recently announced plans for investing in Ukraine's automobile industry. In exchange for the tax exemption, Daewoo will hire 90 percent of its workers from among Ukrainians and contract for at least 70 percent of its parts from Ukrainian firms. ESTONIA MOURNS DROWNED PEACEKEEPERS. Estonians on 21 September took part in an official day of mourning for the 14 soldiers from the BALTBAT peacekeeping unit who died during maneuvers off the country's northwestern coast (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September 1997), ETA reported. A memorial service was held at Paldiski church and a plaque unveiled near Kurkse port. The search continues for the bodies of three of the drowned peacekeepers. In other news, Tiit Madisson, who is serving a prison sentence on charges of treason, has announced he will launch a hunger strike for an indefinite period to demand his unconditional release. Madisson was found guilty in September 1996 of planning a coup against the government. He continues to protest his innocence. LATVIA'S WAY DEPUTY TO HEAD PROBE INTO LATVENERGO AFFAIR. Andrejs Pantelejevs, the faction head of Latvia's Way, has been appointed chairman of the parliamentary committee investigating the loss of 3 million lats (some $6 million) at the state energy company Latvenergo, BNS reported on 19 September. Independent deputies Janis Adamsons and Aivars Kreituss are deputy chairmen. Pantelejevs told reporters that the committee's work will represent a "challenge to the legislature to restore public confidence in political power." It has been alleged that some Latvenergo officials had links to a Liechtenstein company that charged 3 million lats to take over a debt guaranteed by the energy carrier. In other news, police on 21 September found the body of a man believed to have killed seven people the previous day as they were working in a field in the Bauskas region. The man allegedly believed his victims had burned down his house. LITHUANIA REVOKES REHABILITATION OF WAR CRIMINAL. The Supreme Court has revoked the rehabilitation of Petras Kriksciunas, who allegedly participated in the killings of unarmed persons in Vilnius during the Nazi occupation, BNS reported on 19 September. Kriksciunas, who was sentenced by the Soviet authorities, was rehabilitated in 1991 but died two years later. The Supreme Court revoked his rehabilitation on the basis of evidence collected by the Prosecutor-General's office. This is the first instance of an abrogated rehabilitation since 1995, when amendments to the rehabilitation law were adopted. Sixteen other such cases remain before the Supreme Court, but investigations are hampered by the lack of authentic documentation and witnesses. CZECH ROMA CONTINUE TO REQUEST ASYLUM IN CANADA. Nearly 1,100 Czech citizens have requested refugee status in Canada since the beginning of August, according to a Canadian immigration officer quoted by "Pravo" on 22 September. The Czech Republic now occupies third place among the countries of origin of people seeking asylum in Canada, he added. The vast majority of the asylum-seekers from the Czech Republic are Roma. The wave of requests for asylum was sparked by a Czech Television program that suggested Roma asylum seekers enjoy better living conditions in Canada than in the Czech Republic. TURKEY INTERESTED IN ARMS COOPERATION WITH SLOVAKIA. On his return to Bratislava from a four-day official visit to Turkey, Slovak President Michal Kovac said Ankara expressed "great interest" in cooperating with Slovakia's armaments industry (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 September 1997). But Kovac expressed concern that Slovakia might fail to win Turkish weapons contracts because of the "organization of our offer," according to "Sme" on 22 September. Kovac told Turkish President Suleyman Demirel that Slovakia is prepared to help modernize Turkey's tanks, TASR reported. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE LOW TURNOUT IN SERBIAN ELECTIONS. Voter turnout was low in the 21 September presidential and parliamentary elections, independent Belgrade news media reported. Some estimates put the figure at about 50 percent in the capital. But Serbian Electoral Commission secretary Nebojsa Rodic said turnout was massive. Representatives of the ruling Socialist-led bloc are confident of victory in the parliamentary elections, but conceded a run-off election between presidential candidates Zoran Lilic and Vojislav Seselj is likely. Opposition leader Vesna Pesic says a political crisis awaits Serbia, as was the case after previous elections, "Nasa Borba" reported on 22 September. She added that the elections were not conducted in accordance with "normal democratic rules." As in the past, large numbers of Kosovo Albanians boycotted the elections. BOSNIAN SERB POLICE IN PRNJAVOR BACK PLAVSIC. Local police in the northern Bosnian Serb town of Prnjavor near Banja Luka declared their loyalty to Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic on 21 September in her power struggle with the authorities in Pale, RFE/RL's South Slavic service reported. Meanwhile, General Pero Colic, the head of the Bosnian Serb General Staff, said in Brcko on 21 September that the Republika Srpska will not permit the resettlement on its territory of refugees from the Croatian-Muslim Bosnian Federation. He said "in the name of rivers flowing with blood," Pale opposes resettling refugees "under the guise of freedom of movement." ZAGREB CONDEMNS MOSTAR CAR BOMBING. The Croatian Foreign Ministry on 20 September condemned the Mostar car bombing two days earlier as the most brutal act of terrorism against the consolidation of the Bosnia-Herzegovina federation and the Bosnian peace process, Croatian media reported. The explosion occurred near a police station in the Croat-held part of the city, injuring at least 50 people. Croatian Defense Minister Gosko Susak similarly labeled the blast an "act of terrorism regardless of who committed it," RFE/RL South Slavic service reported on 20. September. CROATIA CRITICIZES IMF FOR "POLITICIZING" DECISION-MAKING. Marko Skreb, the Governor of the National Bank of Croatia, told the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank in Hong Kong on 21 September that while Zagreb is aware of its commitments under the Dayton peace agreement, "it is not good that politics are so directly involved in the decision-making of the IMF board." In July, the IMF postponed lending Zagreb $40 million pending Croatia's active carrying out of the Dayton accords and its cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague. The World Bank subsequently postponed a $30 million loan until the same conditions are met. Skreb called on the IMF to renew its support for Croatia's stabilization and reconstruction program, which Zagreb and the IMF agreed on in 1993. He said unless new loans are forthcoming, Zagreb's credit rating may face problems. ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CONTINUES PROTESTS. Some 1,000 supporters of the main opposition Democratic Party demonstrated in Tirana for the fourth consecutive day on 21 September to protest the recent shooting of a deputy from the party. Addressing the protesters, Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha called for protests throughout Albania to force the resignations of Prime Minister Fatos Nano and parliamentary speaker Shkender Gjinushi. The demonstrations were triggered by the 18 September shooting in the parliament in which Socialist deputy Gafurr Mazreku injured Democrat Azem Hajdari. The Tirana daily "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported on 21 September that at a Democratic Party rally in the northeastern town of Bajram Curri two days earlier, protesters clashed with police who fired shots into the air. ETHNIC HUNGARIAN ALLIANCE IN ROMANIA POSTPONES DECISIONS. At a meeting in Odorheiul Secuiesc on 21 September, the Council of Representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) postponed until its October congress taking a decision on whether to transform the alliance into a political party, Romanian media reported. The council also postponed a decision on whether to abolish the function of honorary chairman. Reformed Bishop Laszlo Toekes, who currently holds that post, is opposed to the UDMR leadership's moderate line and to the UDMR's continued participation in the ruling coalition. UDMR chairman Bela Marko told the gathering that some representatives of the coalition partners have adopted positions that make the continuation of the partnership difficult. He also said that the opposition has fascist-like tendencies. ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS DEMONSTRATE IN TARGU MURES. Romanian nationalists demonstrated in Targu Mures on 21 September against Hungarian ethnic minority influence on government policies. They called for an alliance of nationalist and leftist forces to be formed immediately. Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar said the UDMR should hold its congress next month outside Transylvania, Reuters and Romanian media reported. Adrian Paunescu, the first deputy chairman of the Socialist Unity Party, said Romania has been "transformed into a colony." He accused ethnic Hungarians of planning a repeat of the March 1990 inter-ethnic clashes. One day earlier, Funar said in Cluj that Targu Mures Romanians should oust the ethnic Hungarian mayor. He noted that he is willing to become acting mayor there in order to "establish order." The demonstration was attended by Party of Romanian National Unity chairman Valeriu Tabara, and Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor sent a message to the protesters. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPOINTS CHIEF OF CONTROL DEPARTMENT. The government on 21 September appointed Titus Duta as chief of its Control Department and Gheorghe Mocuta as his deputy, Romanian media reported. Duta replaces Valerian Stan, who was dismissed in late August for insubordination (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 1997). Both Duta and Mocuta studied law with Premier Victor Ciorbea. Until now, Duta was a prosecutor. Mocuta headed the Department for Combating Organized Crime within the Prosecutor-General's Office until early September when the department was abolished by newly appointed Prosecutor-General Sorin Moisescu. The post of deputy chief of the Control Department is new. RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS ATTACKED IN TRANSDNIESTER. The Russian military prosecutor's office on 21 September demanded that the authorities in the breakaway Transdniester region open an investigation into an incident three days earlier in which Russian military helicopters were fired on near Tiraspol, ITAR-TASS reported on 22 September. Alexander Baranov, the deputy commander of Russian troops stationed in the region, insisted the perpetrators of the attack must be punished. He did not link the incident to tensions between the Russian military and the Tiraspol authorities over the ownership of Russian military assets in the region. BASA-press on 20 September reported that the Tiraspol leadership intends to block the planned withdrawal of Russian military equipment. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT IN ITALY. Petru Lucinschi on 20 September ended a three-day visit to Italy during which he met with his Italian counterpart, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, Prime Minister Romano Prodi, and Pope John Paul II, Moldovan media reported. The two sides agreed to set up a joint committee of experts to examine boosting economic cooperation and to work out a special program for Italian economic assistance to Moldova. Six agreements on economic and cultural cooperation were signed during Lucinschi's visit. BIG MAC ATTACKED IN MOLDOVA. Arsonists set fire to the construction site of a McDonald's restaurant in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau three times within the previous week, Interfax reported on 20 September. Earlier this year, Chisinau residents demonstrated against the establishment of a branch of the U.S. chain in their city. But other Moldovans backed the popular restaurant and construction continued. The McDonald's corporation has not issued an official response to the latest attacks. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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