When in doubt, tell the truth. - Mark Twain
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 150, Part II, 31 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

* UN CRITICIZES BELARUS FOR SOVIET-STYLE POLICE.

* BALTS TO COORDINATE RESPONSE TO RUSSIAN OFFER

* WESTENDORP THREATENS "BYE-BYE MR. KRAJISNIK."

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UN CRITICIZES BELARUS FOR SOVIET-STYLE POLICE. In a statement
released on 31 October, 18 independent experts assembled by the UN
Human Rights Commission concluded that the police and militia in
Belarus continue to mistreat people much as they did in Soviet times.
In an appended response, Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Nina
Mazai rejected the charges, saying there are only a few irregularities.

UKRAINE REJECTS SMUGGLING CHARGES. Ukrainian Defense Minister
spokesman Valeriy Korol has rejected Bosnian and Western charges
that seven Ukrainian peacekeepers were involved in smuggling,
Ukrainian media reported on 30 October. But Korol said that during
the investigation that led to the peacekeepers' exoneration on those
charges, it had been discovered that four of them illegally used
official vehicles to transport local people. He said the four would be
pulled out of Bosnia.

UKRAINE, RUSSIA BEGIN JOINT EXERCISES. Some 15,000 naval
personnel from Russia and Ukraine have begun a three-day exercise
on the Black Sea, ITAR-TASS reported on 30 October. The 17 Russian
ships and 11 Ukrainian ships are simulating a situation of internal
conflict within an unspecified country. Ukrainian officials said that
despite conducting the exercises with Russia, Kyiv remains
committed to expanding ties with NATO.

RUSSIA WANTS TO NORMALIZE RELATIONS WITH ESTONIA.
Presenting his credentials to Estonian President Lennart Meri on 30
October, new Russian Ambassador Aleksei Glukhov said he will seek
to normalize relations with Estonia, ETA reported. Both nations are
victims of their heritage, he said, adding it is a "paradox that even
under new conditions, the past continues to poison our relations."
Meri stressed Estonia's readiness to cooperate with Russia and
argued that bilateral relations should be based on mutual interests,
international law, and long-term perspectives. Glukhov also handed
over to Meri a document outlining President Boris Yeltsin's offer of
security guarantees to the Baltic States (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27
October 1997).

BALTS TO COORDINATE RESPONSE TO RUSSIAN OFFER. The three
Baltic presidents are scheduled to meet in Palanga, Lithuania, on 10
November and will discuss a joint response to Yeltsin's security offer.
Meanwhile, Lithuania has turned down the document as a whole, BNS
reported on 30 October. A Foreign Ministry statement said that
neither a new agreement on mutual security nor a regional pact is
necessary. But it noted that Lithuania is not opposed to widening
cooperation with Moscow in all areas, according to Reuters.

SLEZEVICIUS OFFICIALLY CHARGED WITH POWER ABUSE. The
Lithuanian Prosecutor-General's Office has officially accused Adolfas
Slezevicius of abuse of power damaging to national interests and the
country's banking sector, Interfax reported on 30 October. A criminal
case was opened against Slezevicius in early 1996, shortly after the
former prime minister, learning of a crisis at the Lithuanian
Innovation Bank, had withdrawn a lump sum plus interest two days
before the bank's collapse. Slezevicius, who took office as premier in
1992, was forced to step down in the wake of that incident.

OSCE CRITICIZES LATVIAN LANGUAGE BILL. Wrapping up a two-day
visit to Riga, Max van der Stoel, the high commissioner on minorities
for the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, urged
Latvia to amend its controversial draft language law and to speed up
the naturalization of the country's large Russian minority, Reuters
reported. Van der Stoel pointed to provisions of the bill regulating
the use of language in the private sphere, which, he stressed, is in
"contradiction of international conventions Latvia has signed." The
bill recently passed in its first reading in the parliament, but the
government coalition is divided over the draft legislation.

POLISH GOVERNMENT TO BE SWORN IN. Poland's new government
will be sworn in on 31 October, PAP reported. But the cabinet will
not assume full powers until a confidence vote that, according to
Solidarity Electoral Action official Andrzej Anusz, has been postponed
until 8 November.

CZECH PRESIDENT PUTS OFF TRIP. Chronic bronchitis has forced
Vaclav Havel to postpone a planned visit to Britain on 4-7 November,
CTK reported on 30 October. The president underwent lung surgery
late last year to remove a small malignant tumor. Meanwhile, the
Czech government continues to face growing political problems. One
coalition party, the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA), has called for a
review of the government's priorities. Social Democratic opposition
leader Milos Zeman has said his party will seek allies to bring down
the government rather than wait for what he claimed would be a
Social Democratic victory in the next parliamentary elections.

CZECHS, SLOVAKS SEEK TO EASE ROMA PROBLEM. Czech Minorities
Minister Pavel Batiska is to go to London to discuss how to ease
tensions between the U.K. and the Czech Republic over Romani
refugees, CTK reported on 30 October. A day earlier, Slovak Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar told a television audience that Bratislava
has proposed repatriating Roma from Slovakia who now live in the
U.K. and France. Meciar also commented that "Slovakia does not
consider itself a country whose ethnic minorities are politically
persecuted."

SENIOR NATO OFFICIAL SAYS NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN HUNGARY.
Addressing a Budapest conference on Hungary and NATO, Simon
Lunn, the secretary-general of the North Atlantic Assembly
confirmed that NATO will not seek to deploy nuclear weapons in
Hungary, Hungarian media reported on 30 October. Donald J.
McConel, who is responsible for political affairs within the alliance,
said accession negotiations show that, in many respects, Hungary
ranks first among those invited to join the alliance

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CLINTON WEIGHS OPTIONS ON BOSNIA. Deputy Secretary of State
Strobe Talbott said in Seattle on 30 October that President Bill Clinton
is carefully considering whether to retain a military presence in
Bosnia after SFOR's mandate expires in June 1998. He argued that
Washington will do whatever is necessary to ensure the success of
the Dayton agreements. Talbott stressed that peace in Bosnia is in the
"vital interests of the United States" and that the international
community will keep a civilian presence there in any case.
Meanwhile in the U.S. capital, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana
and a high-level NATO delegation discussed Bosnian policy options
with Clinton's advisers.

WESTENDORP THREATENS: "BYE-BYE MR. KRAJISNIK." Carlos
Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in
Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 30 October that he will fire Momcilo
Krajisnik, the Serbian representative on the Bosnian joint presidency,
unless Krajisnik becomes more cooperative within two months.
Westendorp called Krajisnik one of the biggest obstacles to the peace
process and to reaching agreements on joint documents, symbols, and
institutions. "If Krajisnik doesn't deliver [agreements on those issues],
then I will say bye-bye Mr. Krajisnik."

BOSNIA'S ELECTRICITY PROBLEMS MOUNT. Zaim Karamehmedovic,
the head of Bosnia's main power company, told "Oslobodjenje" of 30
October that there was a blackout the previous day at a
thermoelectric plant in Tuzla. He added that Bosnia cannot produce
enough power to meet its winter needs and called upon citizens to
save energy. Karamehmedovic said power deliveries to Croatia and
Slovenia have been suspended. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, Prime
Minister Haris Silajdzic said Bosnia's trade imbalance with Slovenia is
"disturbing" and must be remedied. In the first eight months of
1997, Bosnia exported $17 million worth of goods to Slovenia but
imported $181 million worth.

BULATOVIC FACTION TO BOYCOTT MONTENEGRIN PARLIAMENT?
Supporters of outgoing President Momir Bulatovic told an RFE/RL
correspondent in Cetinje on 30 October that their faction in
parliament may boycott future sessions of the legislature following a
decision by parliamentary committees to validate the recent
presidential election results and dismiss Bulatovic's charges of
electoral fraud (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 1997). Some
opposition party spokesmen, for their part, said they want the
parliament to investigate Bulatovic's responsibility for the current
political instability.

SERBIAN POLICE BEAT KOSOVAR STUDENTS. A spokesman for ethnic
Albanian student protesters said on 30 October that demonstrations
will continue the next week. He charged that Serbian police beat 16
students in Pec alone during the 29 October protests. Local Albanian-
language media noted other incidents of police violence against
demonstrators across the province, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Pristina.

SERBIAN OPPOSITION TRIES TO FIND JOINT PRESIDENTIAL
CANDIDATE. Opposition leaders continued discussions on 30 October
in an effort to find a joint candidate for the 7 December Serbian
presidential elections. Names most frequently mentioned include
banker Dragoslav Avramovic, former communist party chief Ivan
Stambolic, and former Yugoslav Prime Minister Milan Panic, "Danas"
reported from Belgrade on 31 October.

SLOVENIAN PRESIDENT EXPECTED TO BEAT SEVEN CHALLENGERS.
The Constitutional Court ruled in Ljubljana on 30 October that Milan
Kucan can run for a third term in the 23 November presidential
elections. Public opinion polls suggest that none of his seven
challengers constitutes a serious challenge and that the president will
receive at least 50 percent of the votes in the first round of balloting.

SLAVONIAN BORDER TO OPEN FOR ALL SAINTS' DAY. William Walker,
the UN's chief administrator in eastern Slavonia, said in Zagreb on 30
October that the borders of the last Serb-held enclave in Croatia will
be open on 1 November. Visits to graves of family and friends on All
Saints' Day is an important Roman Catholic custom in much of Central
Europe. During the war, Croats were unable to visit graves in Serb-
controlled areas. Also in Zagreb, the government announced that
progress is being made on the reintegration of eastern Slavonia. The
statement added there are more Serbs returning to their old homes
outside eastern Slavonia than there are Croats going back to their
former residences inside the enclave.

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT RESTORES COMMUNIST-ERA HOLIDAY. The
legislature on 30 October reinstated 29 November as Albania's
Liberation Day to mark the end of the German occupation during
World War II, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. The previous Democratic-
dominated government had changed the date of the holiday to 28
November, arguing that the last German soldier left Shkoder on 28
November 1944 and that former communist dictator Enver Hoxha
had chosen the 29th simply because Yugoslavia, which was his
wartime patron, also marked 29 November.

ITALIAN, ALBANIAN PROSECUTORS TO OPEN JOINT OFFICES. Italian
senior anti-mafia prosecutor Pierre Luigi Vigna and Albanian
Prosecutor-General Arben Rakipi agreed in Tirana on 29 October to
open joint offices in their capital cities to coordinate the fight against
organized crime, ATSH reported. In other news, Organization on
Security and Cooperation in Europe envoy Franz Vranitzky opened an
OSCE office in Shkoder on 30 October, "Shekulli" reported. It is the
organization's first permanent office in Albania outside Tirana.

ROMANIAN 'REVOLUTIONARIES' END HUNGER STRIKE. The 1989
"revolutionaries" who began a hunger strike in Bucharest 23 days
ago have ended their fast, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 30
October. The move follows a government proposal that the
parliament will not start debating amendments to the law on
benefits to the "revolutionaries" until a special commission has
reviewed the cases of all 9,000 who enjoyed those benefits until
recently. The "revolutionaries" will be represented on that
commission, which will also include a deputy, a senator, a member of
the Prosecutor-General's Office, and a high Interior Ministry official.
In other news, some 5,000 members of the National Syndicate Bloc
demonstrated in Bucharest against the government's economic
policies.

BUCHAREST STOCK EXCHANGE LIMITS FLUCTUATIONS. The Bucharest
Stock Exchange on 30 October narrowed the limits within which stock
prices can fluctuate on a single day. The move came after the shares
of six firms fell by more than 20 percent amidst the turmoil on the
world equity markets. For companies on the exchange's first tier,
trading in futures will be suspended if prices rise or fall by more
than 20 percent. For those on the second tier, the limit is 35 percent,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. In other news, opposition
senators on 30 October introduced a motion criticizing the
government's policies in the agricultural sector. If the motion is
approved by the parliament, the government must implement its
recommendations.

IMF CONCERNED ABOUT MOLDOVAN REFORMS. David Owen, currently
in charge of Moldovan affairs within the IMF, and Mark Horton, the
permanent IMF representative in Moldova, met with President Petru
Lucinschi and parliamentary chairman Dumitru Motpan on 30
October. A statement issued later said Horton expressed concern
about "the parliament's tendency to revise some provisions in the
memoranda signed between Moldova and international finance
organizations." He referred specifically to the parliament's 24 October
decision to suspend raising energy prices" which, he said, may
negatively impact the budget, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. An
IMF fact-finding mission has been in Moldova over the past two
weeks.

CIUBUC SAYS 'GOVERNMENT CRISIS NOT IMMINENT.' In an interview
with BASA-press on 30 October, Moldovan Premier Ion Ciubuc said a
government crisis is "not imminent," provided the parliament " lets
the cabinet take care of the country's urgent problems." Ciubuc was
responding to an initiative by Socialist Unity-Edinstvo deputies to
collect signatures in favor of a government reshuffle. The premier
said such a move would only lead to "destabilization." He added that
the government has to fulfill its international obligations, saying it is
"inconceivable" that the first installment of an IMF $35 million credit
was accepted and then the agreed raising of energy prices
suspended. Ciubuc commented the parliament is playing a "populist
game" that may deprive Moldova of energy resources.

WORLD BANK APPROVES LOAN FOR BULGARIA. The World Bank on
30 October approved a $100 million loan to Bulgaria to help cover
Sofia's balance of payments shortfall, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Washington reported. World Bank project manager Hans Moritz said
Bulgaria has paid "a high price for the slow implementation of
structural reforms" in the past. He added that the government must
now act decisively to "restore confidence and promote economic
stability." The loan will be used to reduce losses of and improve
financial discipline in state-owned enterprises and to accelerate
privatization of the public sector and of banks.






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