The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. - Dolly Parton
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 136, Part II, 10 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

* MOSCOW AGAINST ISOLATING BELARUS

* UN POLICE ACCUSE BOSNIAN CROATS OF COVER-UP

* SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER WANTS JOINT PRESIDENTIAL
CANDIDATE

End Note : GAZPROM'S PLANS STRAIN RUSSIAN-BULGARIAN
RELATIONS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

MOSCOW AGAINST ISOLATING BELARUS. Sergei Prikhodko, Russian
President Boris Yeltsin's international affairs adviser, told Interfax on
9 October that "Russia categorically rejects all attempts to isolate
Belarus from the rest of the world." Prikhodko said that Russian
diplomats sought to have Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka invited to the Council of Europe summit in Strasbourg,
even though Belarus lost its special observer status earlier this year.
But some Russian newspapers appear to have taken a different
stance. The weekly "Moskovskie novosti," for example, published a
photograph of the Belarus president under the headline "An
Undesirable Alien."

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SENDS MIXED SIGNALS ON ORT...
Alyaksandr Lukashenka lashed out at an Russian Public Television
report that suggested Minsk released ORT journalist Pavel Sheremet
as a result of pressure from Russian President Yeltsin, Interfax
reported on 9 October. "If somebody's opinion was taken into
consideration," Lukashenka said, "it was that of Patriarch Aleksii II."
He added that Belarusian law enforcement agencies had also taken
into account a request from Russian Security Council Deputy
Secretary Boris Berezovskii, an influential figure at ORT. But while
Lukashenka repeated that Sheremet will face trial, the Belarusian
president found some common ground with ORT director-general
Kseniya Ponomareva during a meeting in Minsk. Ponomareva told
ITAR-TASS that Lukashenka assured her ORT will continue
broadcasting in Belarus. Lukashenka also indicated that the
Belarusian Foreign Ministry will not hinder the temporary
accreditation of ORT correspondent Vladimir Foshenko to work in
Belarus, according to Ponomareva.

...SEEKS GOOD RELATIONS WITH YELTSIN. Recent comments by
Lukashenka and his spokesman suggest that Minsk may be ready to
adopt a softer line in its dealings with Moscow. In an interview with
the Russian magazine "Sobesednik," Lukashenka said he wants to
remain friends with Yeltsin and to pursue Russian-Belarusian
integration. Lukashenka's spokesman Valeriy Tolkachev told Interfax
on 9 October that the Belarusians blame Yeltsin's aides rather than
the Russian president himself for the recent tension in bilateral
relations.

UKRAINE CRACKS DOWN ON CRIME IN CRIMEA. Ukrainian Interior
Minister Yuri Kravchenko is heading a team of special criminal
investigators currently in Crimea to seek the perpetrators of the
recent series of high-profile, unsolved murders there, Interfax
reported 9 October. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament declined to
approve President Leonid Kuchma's candidate for Ukrainian
prosecutor-general, Oleg Litvak, ITAR-TASS reported. Litvak, famous
in Soviet times for his role as an investigator in the Uzbek "cotton
case," received only 212 of the 226 votes necessary to be confirmed.

ESTONIAN PRESIDENT ON EU ENTRY FOR BALTIC STATES. Addressing
a Helsinki conference on EU expansion on 9 October, Estonian
President Lennart Meri said he supports the rapid inclusion of the
three Baltic States into the EU but is opposed to the three negotiating
collectively with the union, ETA reported. Meri pointed out that EU
accession negotiations have always been individual, not collective. At
the same time, he stressed it is very important for Tallinn that Latvia
and Lithuania begin negotiations as soon as they meet EU criteria.
Meri also noted that the "development of relations with Russia is a
priority for the EU," adding that "this is certainly true of Estonia, too,"
Interfax reported.

ESTONIAN ARMY CHIEF DENIES BLAMING UNIT HEAD FOR TRAINING
TRAGEDY. A defense forces spokeswoman said that, at the Riga
meeting of Baltic army chiefs, Major-General Johannes Kert did not
blame Jaanus Karm, the head of the ill-fated peacekeeping unit, for
the September accident (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 October 1997),
ETA reported. The spokeswoman said the press officer of the Latvian
defense forces had given false information to journalists. Kert's
position, she stressed, is that only the courts can convict someone for
the tragedy.

THREE REMAIN IN RUNNING FOR POLISH PREMIERSHIP. Jerzy Busek,
Andrzej Wisznewski, and an unnamed third person are being
considered by the Solidarity Electoral Action and Freedom Union
coalition, Polish media reported on 9 October. In a move that will
encourage Western investors, Leszek Balcerowicz, the leader of the
Freedom Union and an advocate of free market reforms, has been
named by many Polish media outlets as the likely deputy premier.
Solidarity Electoral Action leader Marian Krzaklewski has promised
to announce the new government line-up within the next few days.

U.S. DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY CRITICIZES CZECHS. Frederick Pang
said in Prague on 9 October that the Czech Republic has been too slow
in drawing up army legislation that is essential if the Czech military
is to make optimal use of its personnel. At the end of September,
Czech Defense Minister Miloslav Vyborny presented the government
with eight bills on the army, including one covering personnel. Pang
said the U.S. will cooperate with the Czech army in the area of job
descriptions, training, and wage scales in the interests of building a
professional army.

MOSCOW SAYS SLOVAKS TO BUY RUSSIAN ANTI-AIRCRAFT SYSTEM.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev told journalists
in Moscow on 9 October that Russian experts believe Slovakia has
opted for the "Russian variant" for re-equipping its military and is
planning to buy the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft defense and
six Ka-50 "Black Shark" combat helicopters. He said Slovakia is also
interested in purchasing the Jak-130 military training plane. At least
part of the military equipment is expected to be covered from the
Russian (formerly Soviet) debt of $1.3 billion to Slovakia. Avdeev
commented that "we expect to repay the debt to Bratislava
completely in the next six to seven years, and we are planning to
repay annually some $180 million."

SLOVAK JUDGES QUIT IN PROTEST. The chairman and deputy
chairmen of the Bratislava First District court have announced they
are resigning as of 1 November, saying the independence of the
courts is not ensured the way it should be," chief judge Miroslav
Lehoczky told the daily "Sme." He denied that either he or his
colleagues have come under direct political pressure but noted that
the Justice Ministry and senior judges are dictating how the court
should function.

HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT APPROVES REFERENDUM. Arpad Goncz on 9
October approved the parliament's decision to hold a referendum on
NATO membership and land ownership by foreign companies (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 8 October 1997). The binding referendum is
likely to be held on 16 November. The opposition criticized Goncz for
not waiting for the Constitutional Court to rule on the opposition's
appeal against the government-formulated questions or for
verification that the 300,000 signatures opposing those questions are
authentic. In other news, the government announced it is setting up
a foundation to support research into the situation of ethnic
minorities in Europe, Reuters reported. The foundation will start
working on 1 January 1998 and will have a 50 million forints
($257,000) budget.


SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UN POLICE ACCUSE BOSNIAN CROATS OF COVER-UP. The UN
International Police Task Force (IPTF) in Bosnia said on 9 October
that Bosnian Croat police in Mostar have withheld evidence about the
18 September bomb blast. The IPTF noted that as a result, it cannot
certify the investigation into the bombing as correct. Police in
Croatian-held west Mostar have not yet announced the results of
their investigation into the explosion, which took place in the
courtyard of the main Bosnian Croat police station, wounding dozens
of people. UN spokesman Alex Ivanko said the IPTF believed that
local canton Interior Minister Valentin Coric had ordered forensic
evidence given to investigators from neighboring Croatia, which have
no jurisdiction in the case.

DRVAR POLICE SUPERINTENDENT BLASTS SFOR. Ivan Jurcevic has
criticized the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) for allegedly failing
to abide by a 9 October agreement between representatives of the
international community in Bosnia-Herzegovina and local authorities
in Drvar, which is administered by the Bosnian Croats. He said SFOR
has refused to remove check-points outside the village of Martin
Brod, near Drvar, Hina reported. As a result, he alleged, displaced
Croats accommodated in Martin Brod are without food for the third
day while Serbian returnees in the village are being regularly
supplied with food by SFOR members. An attempt by the local church
and the Red Cross to bring food to displaced Croats failed because
barricades had been put up outside Martin Brod and SFOR patrols
were controlling all roads leading to the village, Jurcevic said.

BANJA LUKA EDITOR TARGET OF CAR BOMB. A bomb explosion
destroyed a car belonging to Gordan Matrak, the editor-in-chief of
the daily "Glas Srpski" in Banja Luka on 9 October in Banja Luka. No
one was injured but two other cars were damaged and windows on a
nearby building shattered. The Republika Srpska parliament
condemned the attack in a statement saying "we do not approve of
any terrorist actions against persons with different political views.
We demand that political struggles be waged by political means and
that all those who use force against persons with different views to
theirs be dealt with by the law immediately."

BANJA LUKA ACCUSES PALE POLICE OVER DERVENTA INCIDENT. The
Public Security Center in Banja Luka, which is loyal to Bosnian Serb
President Biljana Plavsic, has accused police loyal to Pale of causing
the recent incident near Derventa (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October
1997). Pro-Pale police claimed to have thwarted an attempt by pro
Plavsic police to occupy police stations in Derventa, Teslic, Bijeljina,
and Brod. But the Banja Luka police said in a statement that it has
"reliable information" that the Pale police wanted to take advantage
of the "Autumn '97" military exercises for an "illegal assault into
territory under the control of the Banja Luka police" between
Derventa and Prnjavor, BETA reported. In a bid to prevent this, the
statement continued, "strong police forces" loyal to Plavsic seized all
roads west of Derventa.

SERB DEMOCRATS CLAIM LOCAL ELECTION VICTORY IN BRCKO. The
Pale-based ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) said on 9 October
that it has won in the majority of municipalities in the Republika
Sprska in the recent local elections. Slobodan Kovac, the Bosnian Serb
Republic member of the provisional election commission in Brcko,
said 17 councilors will be from SDS, seven from the Serbian Radical
Party (SRS), and six from the Socialist Party of the Serbian Republic
(SPRS). Of the non-Serbian parties, the Coalition for a Single and
Democratic Bosnia-Herzegovina won 16 seats, the Party of Democratic
Changes of Bosnia-Herzegovina seven, and the Croatian Democratic
Union three. The SDS's main committee concluded that the party's
greatest success was its victory in Brcko and some other
municipalities where parties from the Muslim-Croatian Federation
had hoped to win.

SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER WANTS JOINT PRESIDENTIAL
CANDIDATE. Opposition Civic Alliance of Serbia leader Vesna Pesic
says she hopes discussions among opposition parties that boycotted
the recent presidential elections will result in a common candidate,
"Nasa Borba" reported on 10 October. She said a joint candidate
would have a real chance of victory since voters cast their ballots in
protest at the government rather than in support of a given party.
Pesic added that the authorities must reach a clear agreement with
the opposition to ensure democratic conditions in the next elections.
Meanwhile, former Belgrade mayor and opposition Democratic Party
leader Zoran Djindjic told "Nais" TV that he no longer wants to be a
candidate in the next presidential elections. He said he is the victim
of a well synchronized campaign in the official media.

U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY AUTHORIZES PARTIAL WITHDRAWAL FROM
MACEDONIA. The U.S. Defense Department announced on 9 October
that William Cohen has authorized that the withdrawal of 150 of the
500 U.S. peacekeepers in Macedonia start in October. The move
follows a decision by the UN to decrease its peacekeeping force in
Macedonia, which is composed of U.S. and Scandinavian troops, from
1,050 to 750 soldiers.

CROATIAN PRESIDENT FOUNDS TRUST COMMITTEE. Franjo Tudjman
on 9 October established a National Committee for the Realization of
the Trust Establishment Program, Accelerated Return, and
Normalization of Life in War-Ravaged Areas of Croatia, Tudjman's
office said in a statement, reported by HINA The committee is to help
"create a general atmosphere of tolerance and safety, establish
equality and trust among all citizens of Croatia, create general social,
political, security, and economic preconditions for the normalization
of life, organize the return of refugees and displaced Croatian
citizens, establish a democratic society and create a political
framework for the implementation of legal norms in war-ravaged
areas." Tudjman has nominated his deputy chief of staff, Vesna Skare
Ozbolt, to head the committee.

NORTH ATLANTIC ASSEMBLY MEETS IN BUCHAREST. The North
Atlantic Assembly (NAA), the parliamentary arm of NATO, opened its
fall session in Bucharest on 10 October--the first time the assembly
has convened in a former Warsaw Pact country. At a press
conference in Bucharest the previous day, NAA Secretary-General
Simon Lunn said the assembly's choice of Romania for the session is
"clear" recognition of that country's progress toward democracy and
its will to be admitted into NATO, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana will address the
meeting on 13 October.

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SUMS UP ROMANIAN VISIT. At a
press conference in Budapest following his two-day visit to Romania,
Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs said Bucharest does not
consider it possible split the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj into
separate Romanian and Hungarian sections but will not hinder the
establishment of an autonomous Hungarian university elsewhere, an
RFE/RL corespondent in Budapest reported on 9 October. At a joint
press conference with his Romanian counterpart, Adrian Severin, in
Bucharest, Kovacs said both governments are duty-bound to act
against manifestations of extreme nationalism. In this connection, he
mentioned "anti-Hungarian" positions in Romanian "political rhetoric"
and in the media. Kovacs said the government in Budapest would
take action if anti-Romanian reports were to appear in Hungary.

ROMANIAN "REVOLUTIONARIES" CONTINUE PROTEST. Following their
meeting with Senate Chairman Petre Roman, members of the "1989
revolutionaries" associations said they have launched a hunger strike
in protest at the government's intention to change the law granting
them benefits.(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 1997). Roman told
the protesters he opposes the envisaged changes in the law. They
agreed that a joint commission should be set up to examine the
authenticity of claims about participation in the 1989 uprising.

CHISINAU, TIRASPOL NEGOTIATORS REACH AGREEMENT. At the end
of negotiations in Moscow from 5-9 October, experts from Moldova
and the separatist Transdniester region reached an agreement,
BASA-press reported. No details on the agreement were released, but
observers believe it deals with the division of areas of competence.
The agreement is to be forwarded to the respective leaders for final
approval.

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES HOLDING REFERENDA. The
parliament on 9 October debated the demands by the Socialist Unity-
Edinstvo and the Communist factions for referenda on the laws on
selling and purchasing land and on raising the retirement age from
60 to 65, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Socialist Unity-Edinstvo
is also demanding a plebiscite on the law on the country's
administrative division. Rejecting those demands, parliamentary
deputy chairman Andrei Diaconu argued that the law on selling and
purchasing land was passed in the summer and that the other
legislation has still to be debated. He also said that the 245,000
signatures collected by the Communists in support of a referendum
carry no weight since the constitution makes no provision for forcing
a vote through popular support.

BULGARIA TO PUNISH BAD DEBTORS. The parliament on 9 October
approved a law stripping debtors of their right to bank secrecy in a
bid to alleviate the country's bad loans problem, AFP reported from
Sofia. The law gives Bulgarians one month to start repaying debts
incurred after 1991 and sizable ones dating from 1987 to 1991.
Otherwise, they face having their names made public by the National
Bank. Fourteen banks crashed in 1996 under the weight of losses of $
230 million, mainly incurred through bad loans to state and private
companies. Also on 9 October, the parliament passed a law to allow
government departments and the State Prosecutor's office to use
phone-tapping and other monitoring techniques after receiving court
authorization. A law adopted in June allows such information to be
used as evidence in courts.

END NOTE

GAZPROM'S PLANS STRAIN RUSSIAN-BULGARIAN RELATIONS

by Ron Synovitz

        A dispute over Gazprom's plans for a Balkan pipeline network
has developed into a political crisis between Sofia and Moscow.
Bulgarian officials accuse Moscow of letting Gazprom's economic
agenda influence foreign relations. Bulgarian newspapers go further,
charging that Moscow is using the Russian natural gas monopoly's
economic influence to pressure Sofia on issues such as the Bulgarian
desire to join NATO and the EU. At the root of the dispute is a battle
for control of pipelines that carry Russian natural gas across Bulgaria
to Macedonia, Turkey, Serbia, and Greece.
        The disagreement has stalled construction for years of a crucial
pipeline link from Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas to Greece's
Aegean Sea port at Alexandropolis. Gazprom insists that the project's
joint venture, Topenergy, should be given control of Bulgaria's gas
pipeline network for nearly 50 years. That would essentially give
Gazprom control of pipelines on Bulgarian territory because the
Russian firm owns 50 percent of Topenergy and has the allegiance of
the largest Bulgarian partner, the private conglomerate Multigroup.
Gazprom also wants a Multigroup-owned distributor, Overgas, to be
an intermediary for most Russian gas deliveries in Bulgaria.
        The demands have angered Sofia's pro-market government,
which controls only 20 percent of Topenergy through the state-
owned Bulgargaz. Prime Minister Ivan Kostov's cabinet complains
that a private monopolist intermediary like Multigroup would force
impoverished Bulgarians to pay 30 percent more than German
consumers now pay for Russian gas. Instead, Kostov wants gas
deliveries in Bulgaria to be handled by Bulgargaz. Sofia also wants
Multigroup subsidiaries to sell their Topenergy shares to Bulgargaz,
thus raising the state holding to 50 percent.
        Bulgaria depends upon Russia for oil and gas, and Gazprom is
the largest and perhaps most politically influential company in
Russia. Allegations that Gazprom has a powerful say in Moscow's
political decisions are based on the fact that Viktor Chernomyrdin
headed the firm from its creation in the late 1980s until he became
Russian prime minister in 1992.
        Meanwhile, many companies under the Multigroup umbrella
are reported to have been started by Sofia's totalitarian-era ruling
elite in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Headed by alleged Soviet-era
Bulgarian Intelligence Service agent Iliya Pavlov, Multigroup has
been accused of draining the Bulgarian economy by plundering
assets of state firms through hidden privatization schemes.
        The late Andrei Lukanov also has been closely linked to
Multigroup. Lukanov, a former Communist Party Central Committee
member, became Bulgaria's first post-communist premier after
helping orchestrate the fall of dictator Todor Zhivkov in November
1989. Some three years earlier, Lukanov's friendship with
Chernomyrdin helped him negotiate a cheap gas supply contract that
continued until early this year. The contract benefited firms like the
state steel maker Kremikovtzi, by far the largest Bulgarian consumer
of Russian gas, and the private Intersteel Ltd., a Multigroup
subsidiary that has profited from conducting Kremikovtzi's trade
operations. Lukanov was also Topenergy's first board chairman, a
position that he held until a few months before his assassination by
an unknown gunman in Sofia on 2 October 1996. His successor at
Topenergy was Multigroup's Pavlov.
        Recent editorials in the Sofia press have exacerbated tensions
by charging that Gazprom is trying to retain a monopoly on the gas
market for both itself and its Multigroup partners in order to give
Moscow leverage over the political situation in Sofia. Russian
Ambassador to Bulgaria Leonid Kerestedjiantz has called the articles
"organized harassment." But Prime Minister Kostov and Foreign
Minister Nadezhda Mihailova have both said they are feeling
pressure from the Russian government. Mihailova has urged Moscow
not to confuse economic disputes with political relations.
        Ivan Krastev, a political scientist in Sofia who sometimes
advises the government, says Gazprom is trying to implement a
calculated plan that threatens Bulgarian independence on issues like
NATO and European Union membership. He argues that a Gazprom-
backed intermediary would allow Russia to limit the sovereignty of
small countries by raising gas prices or refusing to deliver supplies.
He calls the scenario the "doctrine of Vyakhirev," in reference to
current Gazprom Chairman Rem Vyakhirev.
        Gazprom and Bulgargaz have so far failed to reach agreement
on a new gas contract. The Bulgarian Interior Ministry has accused
Gazprom of trying to "blackmail" Sofia with high prices.
        Moreover, relations have been strained further by Sofia's
recent refusal to invite Russia to talks with U.S. Defense Secretary
William Cohen and defense officials from eight southeastern
European countries. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov
refused to meet Mihailova in New York during the United Nations
General Assembly. Primakov's spokesman said Bulgaria tried too late
to arrange the meeting. But Mihailova's spokesman says Sofia tried
repeatedly to confirm a meeting that had been agreed in advance.

The author is an RFE/RL news editor.


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