|If you're sure you understand everthing that is going on, you're hopelessly confused. - Walter Mondale|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 146, Part II, 24 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * RUSSIAN PRESIDENT ON CIS'S SHORTCOMINGS * BELARUS HELSINKI COMMITTEE LEADER CHARGED * BULATOVIC CALLS OFF PROTESTS IN MONTENEGRO xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUS HELSINKI COMMITTEE LEADER CHARGED. Belarusian authorities on 23 October briefly detained Tatyana Protska, the leader of the Belarus Helsinki Committee, and charged her with interfering with a police investigation, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Protska is due in court on 24 October and, if convicted, faces a possible jail term of 15 days. Protska was scheduled to go to Switzerland on 25-26 October to present a report on the human rights situation in Belarus to a UN conference, but she has been told that she cannot leave the country. BRITAIN TO HELP UKRAINE CLOSE CHORNOBYL. The British and Ukrainian governments on 23 October agreed that London will send British experts to help Kyiv close the Chornobyl nuclear power plant by the year 2000, ITAR-TASS reported. The memorandum of understanding, signed in Slavutich, also calls for Britain to supply some 200,000 pounds toward delinking the Chornobyl plant from the Ukrainian electric power grid. LITHUANIA, RUSSIA TO SIGN BORDER DEMARCATION ACCORD. Presidents Algirdas Brazauskas and Boris Yeltsin are scheduled to sign a border demarcation agreement in Moscow on 24 October, ITAR-TASS and BNS reported. Currently on three-day visit to Russia, Brazauskas suggested the previous day that Vilnius is prepared to sell electricity to Kaliningrad, the Russian region located between Lithuania and Poland. BLACK THURSDAY ON ESTONIAN STOCK MARKET. The Estonian exchange's TALSE index dropped a record 15.3 percent on 23 October, BNS reported. The managing director of Tallinn's Hoiupank Asset Management group Kristjan Hanni said he expected the decline to continue on 24 October and possibly to spread to the exchanges in neighboring Latvia and Lithuania. Triggered by the recent meltdown on the Hong Kong exchange, the decline reflects liquidity problems in the Estonian market and widespread investments on margins rather than an attack on the Estonian currency. Responding to suggestions that such an attack has occurred, the Bank of Estonia issued a statement declaring it will guarantee the stability of the kroon. ESTONIA, LATVIA, RUSSIA NAMED AS TB "HOT ZONES." A recent study by the World Health Organization lists Estonia, Latvia, and Russia's Ivanovo Oblast as "hot zones" of untreatable tuberculosis that could threaten a global crisis, BNS reported on 23 October, citing Western sources. India, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and the Ivory Coast are also named as countries where many people suffering from TB stop taking drugs as soon as they feel better or run out of money, allowing the disease still in their bodies to mutate so that one or more medicines no longer work. The incidence of drug- resistant TB in these "hot zones" is so high as to threaten to overwhelm local health systems. WHO stresses that "acquired drug resistance" is entirely preventable with proper care. The study was conducted among 50,000 patients in 35 nations. WAS LANDSBERGIS UNDER KGB SURVEILLANCE IN 1980S? Lithuanian Prosecutor-General Kazys Pednycia on 23 October announced he has found documents indicating that the Soviet KGB kept parliamentary speaker Vytautas Landsbergis under surveillance from the beginning of the 1980s on suspicion of "anti- Soviet and nationalist activities," according to Interfax. Pednycia said the documents were retrieved from KGB archives after Soviet secret service officers had testified to a Lithuanian screening committee that Landsbergis had collaborated with the KGB. That committee recently rejected the officers' testimony as "legally insignificant." Landsbergis categorically denies the collaboration charges. "TOUGH" TALKS DELAY FORMATION OF POLISH GOVERNMENT. Prime Minister-designate Jerzy Buzek on 23 October said that "difficult and tough" talks between the two coalition parties, his Solidarity Electoral Action and the Freedom Union, have forced him to delay the announcement of the line-up of the new government until 28 October, PAP reported. ZIELENIEC OUT, SEDIVY IN AS CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER. Following the surprise resignation of Josef Zieleniec on 23 October, Czech President Vaclav Havel moved quickly to prevent the departure from undermining the coalition government. The same day, Havel named Jaroslav Sedivy to replace Zieleniec, CTK reported. Zieleniec said he was leaving because of confusion within his own Civic Union Party. Sedivy, 67, is a former dissident who was jailed in 1970-1971. He has been the Czech ambassador to NATO and Belgium. Sedivy said he was taking the job "for the sake of stability" in the Czech Republic. CZECHS TO REINTRODUCE VISA REGIME FOR CIS CITIZENS. Tomas Gajsman, the head of the Czech Interior Ministry's migration service, told ITAR-TASS on 23 October that Prague is reintroducing a visa requirement for citizens of countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States in order to protect the security of the Czech Republic. Gajsman said the government has been forced to do so because of a rising tide of criminal offenses committed by Russian- speaking visitors. Gajsman also said Prague will no longer grant asylum to Russians who seek asylum on economic grounds. TURKEY, SLOVAKIA SIGN DEFENSE INDUSTRY, TRAINING ACCORDS. Slovak Defense Minister Jan Sitek and visiting Turkish Deputy Premier and Defense Minister Ismet Sezgin have signed defense industry cooperation and military training accords, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 23 October. At the signing ceremony, Sitek stressed the importance of this cooperation, while Sezgin reassured Bratislava that Turkey supports NATO and EU membership for Slovakia. HUNGARIAN PREMIER UNDER FIRE. Addressing a gathering in Vecses, southeastern Hungary, marking the anniversary of the 1956 uprising, Jozsef Torgyan, the chairman of the Smallholders' Party, said it is unacceptable for the head of government to be someone who "helped crush the 1956 revolution." Democratic Forum leader Sandor Lezsa similarly told a gathering in Budapest that no reconciliation is possible as long as Gyula Horn remains prime minister. Meanwhile, President Arpad Goncz, Prime Minister Horn, and parliamentary chairman Zoltan Gal on 23 October attended a ceremony outside the parliament building in Budapest and at the near-by statue of executed Premier Imre Nagy. SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE BULATOVIC CALLS OFF PROTESTS IN MONTENEGRO. Outgoing President Momir Bulatovic appealed to his supporters in Podgorica on 23 October to end their daily demonstrations in favor of a new presidential vote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 1997). He said he will seek to have Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's presidential victory overturned via institutional channels, not via demonstrations. Meanwhile in Belgrade, Serbian Television's reporting on Montenegro was more balanced that it has been for some time, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Earlier that day, Western diplomats had urged Serbian Information Minister Radmila Milentijevic to moderate the state-controlled media's pro-Bulatovic coverage of Montenegrin affairs. MILOSEVIC'S PARTY NAMES SERBIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic will represent President Slobodan Milosevic's United Left Coalition in the 7 December Serbian presidential elections, the coalition's leaders announced in Belgrade. Elsewhere in the Serbian capital, Radical Party leader and presidential candidate Vojislav Seselj appeared in court for questioning in conjunction with a July incident in which a prominent human rights lawyer claims he was beaten by Seselj and his bodyguard. The court must decide whether to bring formal charges against Seselj. AIDE TO MILOSEVIC'S WIFE KILLED IN BELGRADE. Unidentified gunmen killed Zoran Todorovic, otherwise known as "Kundak," in the Serbian capital's Novi Beograd district on 24 October. Todorovic was the secretary-general of the United Yugoslav Left, a communist party headed by Mirjana Markovic, the wife of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. He was also a prominent businessman and managing director of the Beopetrol company, which imports fuel. Police are investigating. KARADZIC AIDE TO HEAD BOSNIAN SERB ELECTION SLATE. The Serbian Democratic Party leadership agreed in Pale on 23 October that party chief Aleksa Buha will head the SDS slate in the parliamentary vote set for 23 November. Buha represents the party's particularly hard-line faction around former party leader Radovan Karadzic. Also in Pale, Republika Srpska Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic sent congratulations to Montenegrin President-elect Milo Djukanovic. Observers said the message was a sign that Pale wants good relations with Podgorica despite the political enmity between Djukanovic and Milosevic, on whom Pale also depends for support. U.S. NAMES NEW AMBASSADOR TO CROATIA. The White House on 23 October announced that William Dale Montgomery will soon replace Peter Galbraith as ambassador to Croatia. Montgomery was ambassador to Bulgaria from 1993 to 1996 and had served in the 1970s at the U.S. embassy in Belgrade. Many observers credit Galbraith with being largely responsible for negotiating an end to the Croat-Muslim war of 1993 and for subsequently establishing the Croatian-Muslim federation in Bosnia. Galbraith also helped cement close diplomatic and military links between Zagreb and Washington and for much of 1994 and 1995 was widely regarded as the second most influential man in Croatia, after President Franjo Tudjman. Meanwhile in Split, a local court issued an international arrest warrant on 23 October for Cedo Blaskovic, the owner of the Rijeka- Nafta shipping company. He is wanted in conjunction with charges stemming from the explosion of one of his tankers earlier in October. CROATIA ASSESSES WAR LOSSES. A Croatian government spokesman on 23 October said that, according to an official commission, 2,197 people are still officially listed as missing in conjunction with the 1991 war. Observers said most of the missing are believed buried in mass graves in formerly Serb-held areas. As a result of cooperation with the Belgrade authorities, the cases of 350 individuals previously listed as missing have been cleared up. Also in Zagreb, a new book appeared that puts Croatia's total losses from the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia and from the following conflict at $45 billion. FOUR ALBANIAN OPPOSITION DEPUTIES START HUNGER STRIKE. Four opposition parliamentary deputies began a hunger strike outside the Albanian Radio and Television building in Tirana on 23 October. They are protesting what they say are the state-controlled electronic media's failure to cover the Democratic Party's daily anti- government protests over the past month, "Rilindja Demokratike" reported. The goal of those demonstrations is to force new elections. In other news, Prosecutor-General Arben Rakipi told "Gazeta Shqiptare" that investigations into the Gjallica pyramid scheme show that the Democrats and the daily "Albania" received donations from the company. Rakipi gave no figures but added that the recipients will be questioned and may be asked to return the money. ALBANIAN LEGISLATURE TO INVESTIGATE SPRING ANARCHY. The parliament on 23 October appointed a commission to investigate developments leading to the lawlessness in the country between January and April, in which more than 2,000 people died. The commission is headed by Spartak Ngjela, a member of the Monarchist Party who was justice minister in the interim government this year, "Shekulli" reported. The commission will be assisted by 12 experts from the Prosecutor-General's Office, who will provide professional advice but will not be empowered to indict suspects. The parliamentary commission will decide whether legal charges will be brought against individuals (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 1997). Meanwhile, Deputy Defense Minister Perikli Teta said he will bring legal charges against all high-ranking army officers in connection with the disintegration of the army in the spring, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. ROMANIAN PRESIDENT GIVES ADVICE TO GOVERNMENT. Emil Constantinescu told a forum on youth problems in Sinaia on 23 October that the government must devote more attention to solving the country's economic problems and leave other issues to the parliament. He said the practice of ruling by "government ordinance," instead of passing regular parliamentary legislation, must be stopped, except when economic legislation is urgently needed. He also noted that ongoing debates such as those on the "revolutionaries'" hunger strike or on accessing the files of the communist-era secret services must be left to the legislature. Constantinescu added that Romania's politicians pay attention to young people only when youths stage "street protests." He added he has asked the government to present in November a report its first year in office, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. FINAL SPLIT IN ASSOCIATION OF FORMER POLITICAL PRISONERS. The Ticu Dumitrescu faction of the Association of Former Political Prisoners in Romania (AFPPR) re-elected Dumitrescu as its leader at a congress in Brasov on 23 October, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Addressing the gathering, Dumitrescu accused the leadership of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) of indulging in "politics of intrigue" and of having enlisted the support of former members of the fascist Iron Guard in order to stage his ouster as AFPPR leader at a recent rival congress of the association (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 October 1997). Cicerone Ioanitoiu, who was elected AFPPR leader by the rival congress, backed down from his announced intention to run for the position voted on in Brasov as well, declaring the gathering "illegal." BULGARIAN LEADERS ADDRESS FOREIGN INVESTORS. Speaking at the opening of an investors' forum in Sofia on 23 October, Prime Minster Ivan Kostov promised to accelerate privatization and the liquidation of money-losing state enterprises in order to attract foreign investment, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Kostov said his government plans to eliminate 30 percent of loss-making enterprises by the end of 1998 and will have closed 90 percent of such companies by the year 2001. Also addressing the conference, President Petar Stoyanov said the Bulgarian reforms are an irreversible process that enjoy the support of the public and most political forces. BULGARIAN MUSLIMS HAVE NEW LEADER. Bulgaria's Muslims have chosen a new spiritual leader, ending a long and bitter row between the country's two rival Muslim councils, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau and Reuters reported on 23 October. Mustafa Alish Hadzha, aged 35, was elected chief mufti at a conference that unified the two councils and approved the statues of a new High Muslim Council. Neither former rival Muslim leaders--Nedim Gendjev, appointed by the Communists in 1988, and Fikri Sali, elected by a rival council to replace Gendjev in 1995--ran for election. The unification conference also decided to launch court proceedings against Gendjev for alleged misappropriation of Muslim property. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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