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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 132, Part II, 6 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

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Headlines, Part II

* ORT JOURNALIST TO BE RELEASED IN BELARUS

* BOSNIAN CROAT WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS LEAVE FOR HAGUE

* SERBIAN RUNOFF FAILS TO ATTRACT A MAJORITY OF VOTERS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

ORT JOURNALIST TO BE RELEASED IN BELARUS. Belarusian President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 4 October that he has ordered the
release of Russian Public Television (ORT) journalist Pavel Sheremet
once the investigation into his case is completed on condition that
Sheremet promise not to leave Belarus, Interfax and ITAR-TASS
reported . Sheremet's release is likely to help resolve the war of
words between Moscow and Minsk. On 3 October, an aide to Russian
President Boris Yeltsin said Moscow is not interested in "unleashing"
an attack against Minsk despite Lukashenka's recent accusations. The
next day, Sergei Yastrzhembskii, the Russian president's spokesman,
told "Vremya" that "we are interested in the union with Belarus not
because of ideological or nostalgic considerations but because of our
pragmatic understanding of Russian national interests."
Yastrzhembskii went on to explain the series of "miscommunications"
that led to Lukashenka's outburst following Moscow's decision to
block his visit to two Russian regional cities.

UKRAINE DENIES "SECRET" EXECUTIONS. Vitaliy Boiko, the chief
justice of the Supreme Court, has denied recent charges that Kyiv
executed more than a dozen people this year, thereby violating its
pledge to the Council of Europe, "Fakty" reported on 4 October. Boiko
acknowledged that more than 60 people have been sentenced to
death in Ukraine so far in 1997, but he said that none of those
sentences have been carried out. At the same time, he noted that
those sentenced to death before President Leonid Kuchma promised
to end capital punishment in Ukraine might still be executed.

RUSSIAN NATIONALITIES MINISTER IN TALLINN. Vyacheslav
Mikhailov said in Tallinn on 3 October that the further development
of Russian-Estonian relations hinges on resolving the problems of
Estonia's Russian-speaking minority, Interfax and ETA reported.
Mikhailov, who was speaking following a three-day visit to Estonia,
noted that there has been no significant improvement in the
situation of the Russian minority. He slammed Estonia's recently
amended aliens law and said Moscow was "dissatisfied" with Tallinn's
implementation of a treaty with Russia stipulating that all former
Soviet citizens who lived in Estonia before 1991 be granted Estonian
citizenship. At the same time, Mikhailov said he is pleased that
Tallinn showed interest in finding an "optimal solution" to the
problems of the country's Russian speakers.

LATVIA SAYS NO EVIDENCE ON ALLEGED WAR CRIMINAL. Foreign
Ministry spokesman Andrejs Pildegovichs said on 4 October that Riga
has no evidence on alleged war criminal Konrad Kalejs and was
therefore unable to ask for an extradition order from the Australian
government, Reuters reported. Pildegovichs said the Prosecutor
General's Office is monitoring Kalejs's case and would carefully
examine any new material. The Simon Wiesenthal Center recently
sent a letter to the Latvian authorities asking them to seek the
extradition of Kalejs from Australia. Kalejs, who denies having
committed war crimes, was deported from the U.S. and Canada after
the authorities found he was a member of a squad in Nazi-occupied
Latvia that had executed Jews, Roma, and Communists.

IMF HEAD UPBEAT ON LITHUANIAN ECONOMY. Michel Camdessus
has said he is a "Euro-optimist" as far as Lithuania is concerned,
Interfax reported on 3 October. The head of the IMF was addressing
an international conference in Vilnius on the changing role of central
banks in Europe, which marked the 75th anniversary of the Bank of
Lithuania. He noted that now Lithuania is about to abandon its policy
of pegging the litas to the dollar, its main priority must be to further
stabilize the national currency. "The Lithuanian authorities are on the
right road in this respect," Camdessus said. He also said the IMF will
cooperate with Lithuania in its reform program.

WALESA LAUNCHES NEW POLITICAL PARTY. Former Polish
President and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa on 3 October filed
papers to form a new political party, Christian Democracy of Poland,
PAP reported. Walesa insisted that his group will not compete
against Solidarity Electoral Alliance. But he claimed that by attracting
the 52 percent of the electorate who did not participate in the recent
parliamentary election, he would "lead the new party to victory " in
the next parliamentary ballot. Meanwhile, Poland's second private
nationwide television station began broadcasting on 4 October. TVN
is backed by the Central European Media corporation based in
Bermuda and the Polish consortium ITI.

FLOOD DAMAGE IN POLAND SET AT $2.8 BILLION. The government
announced on 3 October that the floods in Poland in July and early
August caused damage estimated at 10 billion zlotys ($2.8 billion),
PAP reported. Warsaw said that only 3 billion zlotys has so far been
collected to repair that damage; of that amount, only $40 million has
come from abroad. As a result, the government has begun
discussions with the World Bank and the European Investment Bank
on borrowing some $530 million.

CZECH OPPOSITION PARTY IN CRISIS. Milos Zeman, the chairman of
the main Czech opposition party, the Social Democrats (CSSD), has told
the party's Central Committee that although the CSSD is doing well in
popularity polls, it is in crisis and risks defeat at the next local
elections, "Dnes" reported on 6 October. Zeman blamed "complacent"
rank-and-file party members as well as members of the party
leadership, who recently fired his chief aide, Miroslav Slouf, over his
communist past. "A party that fails to respect the work of all who do
much for it is not a party of friendship but one of intrigues," he
commented.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION WANTS MECIAR'S MENTAL HEALTH
EXAMINED. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 2 October charged
that the opposition Christian Democrats (KDH) considered at a
January meeting having him murdered, Slovak media reported. The
KDH has firmly rejected that accusation. The following day,
opposition members of parliament announced they will adopt a
resolution requesting the Slovak Psychiatric Society examine Meciar's
mental health and ability to be premier. Foreign media have
reported several times since 1991 that Meciar suffers from bouts of
manic depression. "Sme" commented on Meciar's allegations on 4
October, saying the premier has started his reelection campaign and
that this will be his most "sinister" campaign yet.

HUNGARY WANTS TO CONTINUE DIALOGUE WITH SLOVAKIA. Foreign
Minister Laszlo Kovacs on 3 October said Hungary does not intend to
"engage in a war of words" with Slovakia because this would be
"unworthy of a country seeking integration in [Euro-Atlantic]
organizations," Hungarian media reported. Kovacs was speaking
following his return to Budapest after talks in Washington on
Hungarian, Czech, and Polish integration into NATO. He said that
despite recent criticism from Bratislava, Hungary wants to continue
its dialogue with Slovakia. He also stressed that there is no reason
why Budapest should apologize for anything or bow to Slovak
demands.

HUNGARY'S FIRST PRIVATE TV COMPANY GOES ON AIR. Hungary's
first commercial television station began broadcasting on 4 October,
ending a 40-year state monopoly. A second private television station
will go on the air on 7 October, AFP reported. TV-2, which is owned
by a Scandinavian-German-Hungarian consortium, broadcasts to 87
percent of the country's territory and is financed exclusively by
advertising revenues. The second private station, RTL Club, will
broadcast on a frequency that was used by former Soviet troops
stationed in Hungary. It is owned by the CLT Group, based in
Luxembourg.

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BOSNIAN CROAT WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS LEAVE FOR HAGUE... Ten
Bosnian Croats--including one of Bosnia's most wanted war crimes
suspects, Dario Kordic--left Split on 6 October for The Hague, where
they are to go on trial at the UN war crimes tribunal. All 10 are
accused of committing crimes against Muslims in central Bosnia's
Lasva valley in 1993. Kordic told reporters that he and the other
suspects are "handing themselves over for trial with a clear
conscience before God and the Croatian people in order to prove our
innocence." He pledged they will return "with our heads held high".
The U.S. has blocked a $30 million World Bank loan to Croatia in a bid
to ensure that the 10 suspects were handed over.

...IN PRESENCE OF GELBARD. U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard, who
negotiated the surrender of the Bosnian Croat alleged war criminals,
was present in Split when the 10 men boarded a Dutch military
plane. Gelbard called their surrender a "significant step forward" for
the Dayton peace agreement in Bosnia. He warned "those indictees
still at large who choose not to surrender must know that the United
States remains committed to keeping open all possible options for
making them available to the tribunal for prosecution."

GELBARD MEETS WITH KRAJISNIK. After meeting in Pale on 5
October with Momcilo Krajisnik, the Bosnian Serb member of Bosnia's
collective presidency, Gelbard said Western powers have serious
reservations about the presidential elections scheduled to take place
in the Republika Srpska in early December. Gelbard said the vote will
come too soon after the Bosnian Serb legislative elections on 23
November. Explaining the NATO-led seizure on 1 October of four
television transmitters controlled by Pale, Gelbard said the
international community had put up with too much and would not let
such a situation recur. Krajisnik responded that he wants the
transmitter dispute to end peacefully, Tanjug reported. But according
to Radio B-92, Krajisnik condemned the seizure, saying there is not a
single valid reason to justify it.

SERBIAN RUNOFF FAILS TO ATTRACT A MAJORITY OF VOTERS... Ivica
Dacic, the spokesman for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's
Socialists (SPS), has said that the votes remaining to be counted in
the 5 October second round of the Serbian presidential elections will
not be enough to reach the required margin. Slightly less than 50
percent of the electorate went to the polls. Dacic said that the SPS
election headquarters has "very precise data" showing its candidate,
Zoran Lilic, with a slight advantage over Serbian Radical Party
candidate Vojislav Seselj. The Serbian Electoral Commission is due to
announce the final results on 9 October.

...WHILE VOTERS FLOCK TO POLLS IN MONTENEGRO. Results from the
5 October presidential elections in Montenegro show that the
incumbent, Momir Bulatovic, came in first with 47.45 percent of the
vote. His main challenger, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, received
46.72 percent. A runoff will be held on 19 October. Voter turnout
was more than 67 percent. Djukanovic has said it is time for
Montenegro to separate itself from Yugoslavia's economic disaster,
which he blames on Milosevic. Montenegro controls half of the votes
in the federal parliament, where the Yugoslav president is elected.

WEU HEAD IN ALBANIA. Western European Union secretary-general
Jose Cutileiro announced on 4 October during a two-day visit to
Tirana that the WEU will increase the number of European police
officers serving in Albania from 20 to 60 in order to help retrain
local police forces. Cutileiro said the reorganization of the Albanian
police after the unrest earlier this year will be a long process. He said
it is likely the WEU mission's term will be extended beyond the
present expiration date of April 1998. Interior Minister Neritan Ceka
told a news conference held jointly with Cutileiro that Albania's
"entire territory has been put under police control and bands in
major cities of Albania have been neutralized," ATA reported. But he
said less than one-tenth of the weapons stolen from arms depots
during the unrest have been collected.

ROMANIA, U.S. DISCUSS "STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP." Romanian
Foreign Minister Adrian Severin and a U.S. delegation led by
Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Marc Grossman met
in Bucharest on 4-5 October and discussed the "strategic partnership"
between their two countries agreed on during President Bill Clinton's
July visit to Romania, RFE/RL's Bucharest correspondent reported. At
the end of the delegation visit, Grossman said the sides agreed that
the partnership will involve political and economic cooperation as
well as military collaboration. He said the partnership's efficiency
will be demonstrated, above all, by its success in economic and
commercial relations. He added that U.S. investments in Romania
must grow significantly in the future. Grossman told Defense Minister
Victor Babiuc that the U.S. is willing to offer Romania the same
bilateral programs as those offered to the three countries invited to
join NATO. On 4 October, Grossman met with President Emil
Constantinescu and Premier Victor Ciorbea.

ETHNIC HUNGARIANS HOLD CONGRESS IN TARGU MURES. At its fifth
congress in Targu Mures on 3-4 October, the Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania (UDMR) amended its statutes to stipulate that
the federation's Council of Representatives will designate cabinet
ministers representing the UDMR. An amendment on the
transformation of the UDMR into a political party was not put to the
vote. An RFE/RL correspondent in Targu Mures reported that the
congress ignored all proposals by the radical wing, which is
considered a victory for the moderate wing, led by chairman Bela
Marko, However, Reformed Bishop Laszlo Toekes was re-elected
UDMR honorary chairman. In his address to the congress, Toekes
criticized the performance of UDMR government officials. Marko
rejected that criticism but said anti-Hungarian nationalists are
sometimes encouraged by positions adopted by members of the
ruling coalition.

FORMER ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF JOINS POLITICAL PARTY.
Virgil Magureanu has joined the extra-parliamentary New Romania
Party (PNR), the daily "Libertatea" reported on 6 October. The PNR
was set up before the 1996 elections. At the time, it was reported
that the party was a "creation" of Virgil Magureanu. Magureanu
recently announced he is entering politics with the aim of helping to
create a center-left opposition alliance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29
and 30 September 1997).

OSCE DELEGATION WRAPS UP MOLDOVAN VISIT. At the end of a
three-day visit to Moldova by an Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe delegation, Danish diplomat and delegation
head Karsten Petersen expressed "cautious optimism" on the chances
of Chisinau and the separatist Tiraspol leadership reaching an
agreement, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported on 3
October. The delegation met with President Petru Lucinschi and
parliamentary chairman Dumitru Motpan, as well as with Aleksandr
Karaman, the breakaway region's vice president and with Vladimir
Atamanyuk, deputy chairman of the Transdniestrian Supreme Soviet.
It also met with Boris Sergeev, the chief of staff of the Russian troops
stationed in the Transdniester. Karsten said there is a possibility of a
"political compromise" based on the memorandum signed by the two
sides in Moscow on 8 May. The two sides' experts are scheduled to
resume negotiations in the Russian capital on 6 October.

BULGARIA HOSTS INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS. In a declaration
issued at the end of their meeting in Sofia on 3 October, defense
ministers from southeastern Europe and several of their NATO
counterparts expressed their commitment to cooperate to enhance
regional security and promote integration into Euro-Atlantic
organizations. RFE/RL's Sofia bureau quoted U.S. Defense Secretary
William Cohen as saying Washington is making southeastern Europe
a "new priority" following the July Madrid summit. He also praised
Bulgaria's determination to "heal the maladies of the past."
Addressing a meeting in Sofia of the General Assembly of the
Atlantic Treaty Association, Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov on 4
October said that "enhancing stability and cooperation in Europe
remains an irreversible priority of Bulgaria's foreign policy."

BALKAN LEADERS AGREE TO FIGHT ORGANIZED CRIME. At a meeting
in Varna on 3 October, the presidents of Turkey, Romania, and
Bulgaria signed a declaration on cooperating to fight organized crime,
terrorism, and trafficking in drugs and weapons. Suleyman Demirel
stressed his country's willingness to support Bulgarian and Romanian
membership in NATO. Romanian President Emil Constantinescu said
the security of the southern flank of the organization cannot be
ensured unless all countries in the region are members of the
alliance, an RFE/RL correspondent reported.


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