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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

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

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Headlines, Part II

*SOLIDARITY-LED PARTY CLAIMS VICTORY IN POLISH ELECTIONS


*LOW TURNOUT IN SERBIAN ELECTIONS


*ALBANIAN OPPOSITION CONTINUES PROTESTS


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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.

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