|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 131, Part II, 3 October 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 RUSSIAN MEDIA EMPIRES. Government and business entities control many major Russian media. This special report on the RFE/RL Web site lists the important players. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rumedia/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT PROTESTS TO YELTSIN * MOSCOW SAYS SFOR SEIZURE OF BOSNIAN SERB RADIO, TV UNJUSTIFIED * PRISTINA STUDENTS PLEDGE TO RESUME PROTESTS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT PROTESTS TO YELTSIN. Following Moscow's decision not to allow the Belarusian leader to visit two Russian regional cities, Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 2 October sent a telegram to President Boris Yeltsin saying the incident "did not correspond" to relations between the two countries and "contradicts the common strategy" of integration, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, Belarusian Foreign Minister Ivan Antonovich told the UN General Assembly that relations between Minsk and Moscow are not proceeding "smoothly" but could nonetheless serve as a model for relations between other countries, Belarusian media reported. His remarks followed increasingly harsh exchanges between the two capitals over the nature of their relations, Interfax reported. RUSSIAN REACTION TO CANCELED LUKASHENKA VISIT. Russian State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev says the forced cancellation of Belarusian President Lukashenka's planned visit to Lipetsk Oblast is an "unfriendly move" that may damage Russian-Belarusian relations, ITAR-TASS reported on 2 October. The same day, Yeltsin said Belarusian authorities should release Russian Public Television (ORT) journalist Pavel Sheremet before Lukashenka visits Russia. But Seleznev argued that is "absolutely unacceptable" to link a "simple criminal case with inter-state relations." Also on 2 October, Governor Anatolii Lisitsyn of Yaroslavl Oblast, which Lukashenka had also been scheduled to visit, told Interfax that the cancellation of Lukashenka's trip defied logic, commenting "Farewell, common sense! Long live ORT!" Lisitsyn also said unnamed authorities in Moscow tried to pressure him to cancel Lukashenka's visit but that he had refused on the grounds that the visit would help the Yaroslavl economy. UKRAINIAN SECURITY CHIEF SAYS KYIV SLOW TO INCREASE NATO TIES. Vladimir Gorbulin, the secretary of the Ukrainian National Security Council, has complained that Kyiv has made "no serious progress" in developing cooperation with NATO, Interfax reported on 2 October. Gorbulin made his remarks during the first meeting of a new state commission intended to promote cooperation with the Western alliance. He called on all ministries and state agencies to work together to increase cooperation with NATO. ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT HOLDS EMERGENCY SESSION. The government on 2 October convened an emergency session that was also attended by defense forces commander Major-General Johannes Kert, ETA reported. Following the meeting, Justice Minister Paul Varul said nothing has been done to improve the situation in the defense forces since the accident in mid-September in which 14 peacekeepers perished. He pointed out that it was only on 30 September that the head of the ill-fated peacekeeping unit was relieved of his duties. Kert, for his part, said he had waited for the government report to appear before taking action. He stressed, however, that he would now act decisively. A government investigative commission blamed the military leadership for the tragedy. President Lennart Meri has sharply criticized the government report and pointed to shortcomings at the Defense Ministry (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 and 2 October 1997). LITHUANIAN PREMIER SLAMS CHARGES AGAINST LANDSBERGIS. According to Gediminas Vagnorius, claims that parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis collaborated with the Soviet KGB are "rude attacks inspired by personal and political motives...[and] based on accusations by antagonistic Soviet security officers," BNS reported on 2 October. Vagnorius is a prominent leader of Landsbergis's Conservative Party. Also on 2 October, the chairman of the parliamentary commission investigating deputies' possible links with secret services abroad said that testimony against Landsbergis has been received from only one former KGB official, adding that it cannot be considered valid evidence. Earlier press reports claimed that four former KGB officials submitted testimony (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October 1997). Meanwhile, opposition deputies have proposed that Landsbergis suspend his political activities while the investigation into his past continues. SOLANA SAYS NEW NATO MEMBERS MUST MEET ENTRY COSTS. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana has told top defense officials from Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary that they will have to bear most of the costs of joining the alliance. Solana met with the Central European officials on 2 October in Maastricht. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen also stressed that the new members must demonstrate their willingness to pay for expansion and not depend on wealthier members. Polish Deputy Defense Minister Andzej Karkoszka, addressing an annual NATO gathering, said Warsaw is willing and able to pay the costs. Czech Defense Minister Miroslav Vyborny promised defense spending will double in the next two years. His Hungarian counterpart, Gyorgy Keleti, said Budapest will allocate 1.51 percent of GDP for defense spending in 1998 and 1.81 percent by the year 2001. MORE POST-ELECTION MANEUVERING IN POLAND. Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) leader Marian Krzaklewski and Freedom Union chief Leszek Balcerowicz have said they will meet soon to begin to decide who will fill which posts in the new government, PAP reported on 2 October. The same day, the leadership of the Polish Roman Catholic Church said it would support the creation of a new Christian Democratic Party based on the AWS. Meanwhile, the outgoing government has made an announcement that the new cabinet may find hard to live up to: according to Finance Minister Marek Belka, the economy would grow by 5.5 percent and inflation fall to 9.5 percent in 1998 if the current government's budgetary plans were adhered to. CZECH-GERMAN FUND TO BE LAUNCHED IN JANUARY. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus agreed in Prague on 3 October that the Czech-German discussion forum and the joint Fund for the Future will begin operations on 1 January. Germany is to deposit DM 140 million ($22.6 million) and the Czech Republic 440 million crowns ($13.5 million) in the fund. The January 1997 bilateral declaration on mutual relations provided for the fund and stipulated that the money will be used for the victims of Nazism but not as compensation to individuals. Kinkel avoided a reporter's question about whether Germany will compensate individual Czech victims of Nazi persecution with other funds. The establishment of a discussion forum has been prevented until now by disagreement over who should participate and whether hard-line Sudeten German expellees should be included. CZECH COURT HALTS PROSECUTION OF TWO ALLEGED 1968 TRAITORS. Prague's High Court on 2 October halted further prosecution of two communist-era hard-liners, Milos Jakes and Jozef Lenart, on charges of treason. Chief judge Vladimir Vocka told the daily "Pravo" that the proceedings were halted because their crime was "not a punishable offense." In May 1997, Jakes and Lenart were indicted for treason in connection with having taken part in negotiations at the Soviet embassy in August 1968 (during the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia) on forming a "workers' and peasants' government." DIGITAL "KOVAC CLOCK" TO BE REMOVED. Bratislava municipal authorities on 2 October ordered the removal of a large electronic digital rooftop clock showing the number of days left until President Michal Kovac's five-year term in office expires in February. A local official told "Sme" that the clock, which faces the presidential palace, is an "unlawful advertising device." Meanwhile, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar told a rally of his Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 2 October that the party would like to have as president a "person with national consciousness [and] a sense of social and Christian values, respecting all people, uniting instead of dividing them, and treating them as a father." He conceded that an HZDS candidate would have no chance of becoming president but said the possibility of combining the posts of premier and president remains an "open question." ZHIRINOVSKY MAKES "OFFER" TO HUNGARY. In an interview with the Hungarian daily "Nepszabadsag," Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, has offered to help Hungary regain territories that are now part of Ukraine and have a large Hungarian minority. The territories belonged to the former Czechoslovakia between the two World Wars and were briefly annexed by Hungary during World War II. Zhirinovsky, who is in Budapest on a private visit, also warned that Hungary "would swarm with spies and provocateurs" if it joins NATO, AFP reported on 2 October. In other news, Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs on 2 October presented a piece of the barbed wire fence that separated communist-era Hungary from Austria to the George Bush Library in Houston, "Nepszabadsag" reported. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MOSCOW SAYS SFOR SEIZURE OF BOSNIAN SERB RADIO, TV UNJUSTIFIED. The Russian Foreign Ministry on 2 October said there was no "serious justification" for the NATO-led operation the previous day to seize control of hard-line Bosnian Serb radio and television, Interfax reported. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin said "there are reasons to fear that such actions may jeopardize the implementation of the Belgrade agreements of 24 September on overcoming the crisis in Republika Srpska and provoke a new wave of confrontation." But the U.S. State Department has rejected Russian criticism about the NATO seizures. State Department spokesman James Foley noted the operation was "fully in conformity with agreements" reached by the alliance's foreign ministers at Sintra, Portugal in May and at subsequent meetings "to which the Russians were a party." UN-SUPERVISED EXHUMATION CONCLUDED IN BOSNIA. A total of 87 bodies have been recovered from a mass grave at Hrgar, in northwestern Bosnia, ending a month-long exhumation supervised by the UN, Bosnian Television reported on 2 October All the bodies have been exhumed and undergone an autopsy, according to experts involved in the excavation. To date, 43 of the victims, all believed to be Muslim civilians, have been identified. Residents from the surrounding area with relatives reported missing have been asked to help identify the bodies. Hrgar was a Bosnian Serb artillery position during the siege of the Bihac enclave. Several Bosnian officials said the victims at Hrgar were civilians arrested by Serbian forces as they tried to flee the area, HINA reported. MORE RESULTS OF BOSNIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on 2 October released the results of the September local elections for a further 14 communities. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic's Democratic Action Party (SDA) maintained its control of three of Sarajevo's four constituencies. In the Muslim-controlled town of Bosanski Petrovac, which was 74 percent Serbian before the war, refugee voters ensured the victory of a Serbian opposition coalition party. Similarly, in the formerly multi-ethnic, now Serb-controlled town of Kotor Varos, the Muslim coalition won the vote. Meanwhile, the Bosnian branch of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) has challenged the results in Bosanski Brod , in which the Serbian bloc won 24 town council seats and the Croatian-Muslim bloc 21. Local HDZ chairman Zdravko Marinic said this is exactly what the HDZ had feared and why it had wanted to boycott the elections, HINA reported. PRISTINA STUDENTS PLEDGE TO RESUME PROTESTS... Pristina University student leaders have pledged to resume protests by mid- October unless the Serbian authorities implement the 1996 education agreement between then Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova, the Kosovo Information Center reported on 2 October. The previous day, student leaders agreed to calls by Rugova and Western diplomats to postpone further protests (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October 1997). Ernest Luma, deputy chairman of the Student Union of Pristina University, has said that at least 100 students were beaten by the police, of whom 13 sustained "severe injuries." Police are maintaining tight control on all access routes to Pristina in a bid to prevent young people from entering the city, ATA reported. ...AS LILIC WARNS KOSOVARS. Zoran Lilic, the left-wing candidate in the 5 October run-off presidential elections in Serbia, told Kosovo's Serbian Radio Mitrovica on 2 October that ethnic Albanians in Kosovo cannot attend schools in Serbia that use curricula drawn up in Tirana, nor can they open universities. "There exists one university and one education system [in Kosovo], which must be respected", he said, adding, "they have the opportunity, if they choose to take it, to attend classes in Albanology, to have the right to their own culture, history, and media in their own language. They have the right to everything other minorities throughout the world have." Lilic also remarked that Serbs and Montenegrins in Kosovo will never be a national minority, nor will there ever be another republic in Serbia in addition to the Republic of Serbia. YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT TAKES MEASURES AGAINST GRAY ECONOMY. The government on 2 October announced that all competent state bodies will undertake rigorous and coordinated action to eliminate the parallel or gray economy, Tanjug reported. The cabinet noted that the "illegal parallel economy has reached such a level as to become a serious threat to the country's economic and even political system." Measures will include tax reform and strict enforcement of the penal code. POLICE HEADQUARTERS ATTACKED IN ALBANIA. Unidentified persons on 2 October used antitank shells to attack the police headquarters in Saranda, in southern Albania, ATA reported. Police believe the attack was linked with the detention of three persons suspected of injuring a police officer and of robbery. An explosion in front of the town hall occurred simultaneously with the antitank attack. Interior Minister Neritan Ceka and Interior Ministry Secretary of State Ndre Legisi arrived in Saranda the same day for talks with local government and police officials. ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ASKS SEVERIN TO SUBSTANTIATE SPY ALLEGATIONS. The government on 2 October asked Foreign Minister Adrian Severin to submit to the appropriate authorities evidence substantiating his allegations that "foreign agents" are active in political parties and in the media (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 23 September 1997). A governmental press release said the executive will debate the issue again following the completion of the investigation. Also on 2 October, the ruling coalition's Coordination Commission recommended that the ordinance on the closure of mines and on miners' compensation remain in force, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. That decision contradicts the recent agreement between Finance Minister Mircea Ciumara and leaders of the mining trade unions (See "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 October 1997). ROMANIAN SENATE TO DEBATE ACCESS TO SECURITATE FILES. The Senate has voted in favor of an urgent debate on Senator Ticu Dumitrescu's draft law on accessing the files of the former communist secret police. The debate will take place on 14 October and is seen as support for Dumitrescu in his dispute with the leadership of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October 1997). However, an RFE/RL Bucharest correspondent noted there are doubts about the constitutionality of the vote. The basic document stipulates that if a draft law affects the state budget, it must be considered by the government before the parliament can debate it. The Dumitrescu draft falls into that category since it provides for the setting up of a body overseeing access to the files and for the financing of that body from the budget. MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT CONFIDENT ABOUT TRANSDNIESTER SOLUTION. At a meeting with a visiting Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe delegation on 2 October, Petru Lucinschi said he is confident that agreement on a solution to the Transdniester conflict will be reached in negotiations at expert level in Moscow in October, Infotag reported. He stressed Chisinau's intention to offer Tiraspol broad autonomy within a unified Moldova. However, Aleksandr Karaman, the breakaway region's vice president, told the same delegation in Tiraspol that the Transdniester authorities view the "joint state" as being made up of two equal entities with some common structures jointly agreed on. MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES PRESIDENTIAL VETOES. The parliament on 2 October overrode President Lucinschi's vetoes of two laws. Lucinschi had refused to promulgate a law, passed by the legislature on 25 July, that would abolish penalties for failing to make payments to the state budget that were due by 1 July. The president had argued the law would greatly reduce financial discipline. The second piece of legislation he had vetoed would amend the law on the State Accounting Chamber to require that body to submit reports to the parliament within five days of receiving such a request, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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