Logic, n. The act of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human understanding. - Ambrose Bierce
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 173, Part II, 5 December 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

* HAVEL SEEKS SOLUTIONS TO GOVERNMENT CRISIS

* EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT EXCLUDES SLOVAKIA FROM MEMBERSHIP
TALKS

* KOSOVO GUERRILLAS CLAIM PLANE DOWNED

* End Note: "SVABODA" EDITOR REFUSES TO BOW TO
LUKASHENKA

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT RESTRICTS PUBLIC
ASSEMBLY.  According to a new law passed unanimously by
the Belarusian parliament on 4 December, organizers of public
meetings and demonstrations will have to obtain official
permission for such events, Belarusian media reported.  Those
who ignore the law will face criminal penalties.  The new
legislation codifies a 1996 decree issued by President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka.  PG

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT BACKS DRAFT BUDGET.
Lawmakers have given initial approval to the government's
draft budget for 1998, Interfax reported on 4 December.  By a
vote of 264 to 42, the parliament approved a budget that
would cut the deficit from 5.2 percent of GDP to 4.3 percent.
Parliamentary deputies also passed a resolution calling on the
government to increase revenue and expenditure plans before
a second vote. In addition, they urged greater spending in the
regions and on social problems. PG

UKRAINE CRACKS DOWN ON CORRUPTION, FRAUD.  Police
on 4 December arrested Vasily Koval, the chief of the Foreign
Ministry's consular department, on charges of abuse of office
and involvement in illegal currency operations, ITAR-TASS
reported. The same day, acting Prosecutor-General Oleh Lytvak
asked lawmakers to lift the parliamentary immunity of Yulia
Timoshenko so that the opposition legislator can be tried for
illegal financial dealings, Interfax reported. And Ukraine's
emergencies ministry released a statement saying that some
3,819 people who falsely claimed to have been clean-up
workers at Chornobyl had been stripped of their special
benefits.  PG

ESTONIA'S MERI REFUSES TO PROMULGATE AMENDED
LANGUAGE LAW. President Lennart Meri on 4 December
refused to promulgate amendments to the language law
adopted by the parliament in mid-November, RFE/RL's
Estonian service reported, citing the Office of the President.
Meri argued that under the amendments, the executive branch
is given too much power to decide whether deputies have
sufficient knowledge of the Estonian language. He also
commented that the amendments allow the government to
define the obligations of the individual, which, he argued, only
the constitution can do. JC

END TO ESTONIAN BUDGET ROW IN SIGHT? The United
Opposition on 4 November accepted the government's offer of
an additional 133 million kroons ($8.9 million) to fund a wage
hike for teachers next year, BNS and ETA reported. The
opposition recently voted a 200 million kroon allocation into
the 1998 budget, resulting in a budgetary imbalance. Both the
government and the opposition believe the compromise will
increase the chances of passing the budget in mid-December. JC

TALLINN, RIGA INCLUDED ON WORLD HERITAGE LIST.
The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations
Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has included
the historical centers of Tallinn and Riga on its World Heritage
List, BNS reported on 4 December. The committee praised the
Estonian capital as an outstanding example of a medieval, north
European trading center, while it noted that Riga's art nouveau
architecture is "unparalleled anywhere in the world." JC

LONGER TERMS FOR LATVIA'S FUTURE PRESIDENT,
PARLIAMENT. Lawmakers on 4 December voted to extend
the terms in office of the president and parliament from three
to four years, BNS reported. The constitutional amendment
does not apply to the incumbent head of state and legislature.
Voting on the amendment had to be  postponed seven times
because opposition deputies refused to register for the ballot.
JC

LITHUANIA TO REPATRIATE MORE REFUGEES. Vilnius
will return some 300 illegal immigrants to their native
countries in mid-December, BNS and Reuters reported on 4
December. Citizens of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh will
be sent home on charter flights sponsored by the Helsinki-
based International Migration Organization. Since late October,
Lithuania has repatriated some 100 illegal immigrants. JC

KOHL SUPPORTS EARLY EU MEMBERSHIP FOR POLAND.
At a 4 December meeting on the German-Polish border, German
Chancellor Helmut Kohl told Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek
that he wants the EU to include Poland as a member "as quickly
as you become a member of NATO," PAP reported. That would
mean  Poland would become a member of both Western
organizations in 1999.  The two leaders met to open a bridge
linking the two countries.  PG

HAVEL SEEKS SOLUTIONS TO GOVERNMENT CRISIS...
Czech President Vaclav Havel on 4 December said that he may
soon "encourage some individual to lead the talks on the
formation of a future government" but that, for the time being,
"I shall not name a new premier," CTK and Reuters reported.
Havel spoke after meeting with the leaders of the junior
partners in the outgoing coalition, the Christian Democratic
Union and the Civic Democratic Alliance. He said his decision on
whom to ask to lead the talks would depend on his discussions
with outgoing premier Vaclav Klaus and on talks between the
three coalition partners scheduled for 5 December. Havel said a
government formed without Klaus's Civic Democratic Party
(ODS) would need support in the parliament from the main
opposition Social Democrats, whose leader, Milos Zeman, Havel
is to meet on 5 December. MS

...AS KLAUS URGES ODS TO FORM 'CONSTRUCTIVE
OPPOSITION.'  Meanwhile, Klaus has sent a letter to ODS
members saying he is in favor of  the party's going into
"constructive opposition."  He said the party can overcome its
current crisis only by disclosing full details of its funding and
by explaining the activities of its leadership and structures.
Zeman said on 4 December that he cannot imagine a stable
government consisting only of the two junior members of the
outgoing coalition. In related news, NATO Secretary-General
Javier Solana has said that the current crisis in the Czech
Republic should not influence the process of its admission into
the alliance, as "such developments are part of normal political
life in a democracy," CTK reported on 4 December. MS

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT EXCLUDES SLOVAKIA FROM
MEMBERSHIP TALKS. The European Parliament on 4
December called for all qualified countries seeking EU
membership, with the exception of Slovakia, to begin
membership talks next year, AFP reported. The parliament said
the Slovak government is  "not yet sufficiently democratic" for
it to be considered for membership.  EU leaders are meeting in
Luxembourg on 12-13 December to wrap up discussions on
whom to invite to start membership talks. However, they
remain split over the European Commission's  recommendation
earlier this year that only six countries--the Czech Republic,
Estonia, Hungary,  Poland, Slovenia, and Cyprus--begin
negotiations. MS

MECIAR DECLINES TO ANSWER LAWMAKERS'
QUESTIONS. Slovak Premier Vladimir Meciar on 4 December
refused to answer questions in the parliament about his
decision to cancel government news conferences (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 4 December 1997), Reuters reported. Opposition
deputy Roman Kovac said the decision was illegal because it
violated the constitutional right of citizens to gain access to
information. Meciar declined to answer questions on his recent
appointment of Blazena Martinkova as personal adviser. He
also refused to tell the parliament whether he recently  made a
trip to Russia accompanied by the head of the Slovak
Intelligence Service, Ivan Lexa. The premier said lawmakers
have no right to ask those questions and should "answer them
yourselves." MS

HUNGARY'S SOCIALISTS TO RUN ON THEIR OWN IN
NEXT ELECTIONS. Prime Minister Gyula Horn, who is also
chairman of the Socialist Party (MSZP), said on 4 December that
his party will not conclude an electoral cooperation agreement
with its current coalition partner, the Alliance of Free
Democrats (SZDSZ), Hungarian media reported. He said  that  the
MSZP-SZDSZ coalition is likely to retain  power after the spring
1998 parliamentary elections. MSZ

HUNGARIAN GOVERNMENT OUTLINES FUTURE
MONETARY POLICY. Government spokesman Elemer Kiss told
reporters on 4 December that the main goal of the cabinet's
monetary policy is to reduce inflation from its current level of
18-19 percent to 12-13 percent next year. The current account
deficit is likely to drop to $1.5-1.8 billion in 1998 from $4
billion in 1994, while investments are expected to increase by
more than 10 percent next year, he said. The government will
increase the minimum monthly wage to 19,500 forints ($100)
in 1998. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVO GUERRILLAS CLAIM PLANE DOWNED. The
clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) issued a press
statement in Pristina on 4 December claiming responsibility for
a recent series of violent incidents in Serbia's mainly ethnic
Albanian province (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December 1997).
The statement added that the UCK shot down a Yugoslav
Airlines trainer on 26 November near Pristina airport. Police
had earlier said that a technical problem caused the crash, in
which five people died. Elsewhere in Pristina, Kosovar shadow-
state President Ibrahim Rugova called on the U.S. to take the
lead in solving the Kosovo problem. PM

ARRESTS FOLLOW EXPLOSION AT SERBIAN FACTORY.
Police arrested the director and five employees of an
explosives factory in Lucani, near Cacak, on 4 December. An
explosion at the plant the previous day killed four workers and
left six more seriously injured. PM

SERBIA'S CROATS BACK MILOSEVIC'S CANDIDATE. Bela
Tonkovic, the chairman of the Democratic League of Croats of
Vojvodina (DSHV), told an RFE/RL correspondent in Subotica on
4 December that his organization endorses Milan Milutinovic in
the 7 December Serbian presidential vote. Tonkovic added that
Milutinovic is one of only two candidates who answered a
recent appeal by the DSHV calling for the normalization of ties
between Zagreb and Belgrade. The Kosovo Albanian leadership,
for its part, has announced a boycott of the election on the
grounds that none of the Serbian candidates has addressed
Albanian concerns about Kosovo. The latest polls give
ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj a comfortable lead to over
Milutinovic, who is allied with Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic. Seselj won more votes that Milosevic's candidate,
Zoran Lilic, in the  5 October ballot, but that election was
declared invalid because of low turnout. PM

MONTENEGRIN ALBANIANS DEMAND OPEN BORDER. The
town council of Ulcinj, near the Albanian frontier, appealed to
the Montenegrin authorities on 5 December to open four border
crossings. The council of the mainly ethnic Albanian town said
the move is necessary to end the region's and Yugoslavia's
isolation, BETA news agency reported. The officials also asked
the federal authorities to end visa requirements for foreigners
in order to attract tourists. Montenegrin President-elect Milo
Djukanovic, who was supported by the ethnic Albanians in the
5 October vote, wants to end Montenegro's isolation in order to
revive tourism and shipping. PM

MONTENEGRIN MEDIA CHIEFS RESIGN. Zoran Jocovic, the
director-general of Montenegrin Radio and Television, and
Predrag Bulatovic, the chairman of the board, resigned in
Podgorica on 4 December. The two are supporters of outgoing
President Momir Bulatovic, an RFE/RL corresponedent reported
from Podgorica. PM

PLAVSIC IN SARAJEVO. Republika Srpska President Biljana
Plavsic on 4 December paid her first visit to the Bosnian capital
since the war began in 1992. She appealed to German Foreign
Minister Klaus Kinkel and his French counterpart, Hubert
Vedrine, for patience in the implementation of the Dayton
agreement. The two ministers, however, urged Plavsic and the
three members of the Bosnian joint presidency to quickly
remove obstacles to implementing the treaty. They warned
that the international community will punish any side deemed
to be obstructing implementation, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from Sarajevo. PM

BOSNIAN POLICE ARREST 40 ALLEGED TERRORISTS. A
spokesman for the UN police force confirmed in Sarajevo on 4
December that Bosnian police recently arrested some 40
persons in central Bosnian in an apparent crackdown on
Islamic extremists (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 December 1997).
Most of the arrests were made in the Zenica area, where a
number of foreign Islamic fighters settled after the war with
Bosnian wives. The Bosnian government has been under strong
pressure from the international community and from Croatia to
arrest the alleged terrorists, who are blamed for the deaths of
returning Croatian refugees and the destruction of Roman
Catholic religious sites. PM

UN TO LEAVE MACEDONIA IN AUGUST. The UN Security
Council voted in New York on 4 December to extend the
mandate of the 750 UNPREDEP peacekeepers through August
1998 and to end the mission at that point. UNPREDEP is the
first force in UN history aimed at preventing conflict from
spreading rather than at separating warring factions. The
Macedonian government wants the mainly Scandinavian and
U.S. force kept on indefinitely to help ensure peace in a region
plagued by ethnic tensions and political instability. Russia
argues that the military component of the UN presence in
Macedonia should be phased out quickly. PM

MACEDONIA, ALBANIA SIGN BORDER PACT. Albanian
Foreign Minister Paskal Milo and his Macedonian counterpart,
Blagoj Handziski, signed six agreements in Tirana on 4
December. Four of the texts are aimed at strengthening security
along their common border, near which more than 100
incidents have been reported since the beginning of the year.
PM

UNESCO DECLARES ALBANIAN SITE ENDANGERED. The
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
announced in Naples on 4 December that it has added the
ancient Greek site at Butrint, near the Albanian-Greek border,
to its World Heritage in Danger list. Butrint was looted during
the unrest that swept Albania during the spring. Many
archeological sites and museums throughout the country were
looted or vandalized during the anarchy. PM

ROMANIA'S NEW FINANCE MINISTER WAS SECURITATE
MEMBER. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea told journalists on 4
December that Daniel Daianu was a member of the former
Securitate but had nothing to do with the "political arm" of the
communist secret police since he worked for its foreign
intelligence department. Ciorbea said once the parliament
passes the law on access to Securitate files, Daianu's dossier will
be re-examined. Ciorbea praised Daianu for having publicly
acknowledged in 1990 that he worked for the Securitate.
Ciorbea was speaking to journalists on 4 December, shortly
after the parliament approved the reshuffled government,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA. Petru Lucinschi and
his Romanian counterpart, Emil Constantinescu,  attended a
ceremony in Iasi on 4 December marking the opening of a fiber
optics telecommunications line linking their two countries, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported. Lucinschi told reporters that it
is  "more logical" for Moldova to press for EU membership than
to pursue reunification with Romania, Reuters reported.
According to Mediafax, Lucinschi also said  Moldova is
"unhappy" that the basic treaty with Romania has not yet been
concluded. He hinted that former President Ion Iliescu was to
blame but said there are still "problems" at the level of foreign
minister.  He added that he and Constantinescu have agreed to
"demand that the [foreign ministers] present us with a report"
on how the talks are progressing by January. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY  CHAIRMAN CRITICIZES
RUSSIAN DUMA. Dumitru Motpan on 4 December criticized
the Russian State Duma for not inviting a Moldovan
parliamentary delegation  to its 9 December debates on the
ratification of the Moldovan-Russian treaty (initialed in 1990)
and on the conflict with Tiraspol. The Duma sent invitations
only to a deputy from the Socialist Unity-Edinstvo faction and
to the Supreme Soviet of the breakaway region. Motpan said he
will ask Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev to postpone the
debates because the date coincides with the opening in
Chisinau of a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Black Sea Economic  Cooperation organization. But he added
that even if the request is turned down, a Moldovan
parliamentary delegation will nonetheless attend the debates
in Moscow. Meanwhile, separatist leader Igor Smirnov
appealed to the Duma not to ratify the treaty with Moldova,
RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported.

TURKISH PREMIER IN BULGARIA.  Mesut Yilmaz and his
Bulgarian counterpart, Ivan Kostov, on 4 December signed
several agreements, including one settling a 50-year-old
dispute over the border along the Rezovska  River, which runs
into the Black Sea. That agreement may facilitate an accord
delimiting the territorial waters of the two countries. Yilmaz
described bilateral relations as "perhaps in the healthiest
period in their history." He said Turkey will ask the
Organization of Islamic Conference to take Bulgaria off its
"black list." Sofia was included on that list because of
communist violations of the rights of its ethnic Turkish
population. The two leaders also signed agreements on
cooperation in law enforcement, customs, and culture  and
agreed to work toward setting up a free trade zone. MS

"SVABODA" EDITOR REFUSES TO BOW TO LUKASHENKA

by Jeremy Bransten

        The editor-in-chief of Belarus's independent "Svaboda"
newspaper, which was recently shut down by the government,
says he will not bow to the authorities. On the contrary, he
intends to resume publication in the near future.
        Speaking to RFE/RL in Prague on 4 December, Ihar
Hermianchuk said the staff of "Svaboda" had expected
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to try to silence them.
Anticipating the closure, Hermianchuk and his colleagues had
registered themselves under several new publication names to
enable their newspaper to quickly reappear under a different
masthead.
        "Svaboda" was closed by the authorities on November 24
after two of its articles were deemed to "incite discord in
society as well as between the citizens and the government."
One of the pieces in question portrayed opposition politicians
in a favorable light, while the other quoted a speaker at an
anti-government rally who compared current government
crackdowns to the Stalinist repressions of 1937.
        Hermianchuk said "Svaboda" will reappear in January
under the  name "Noviny." He said that if publication proves
impossible in Belarus, the newspaper will be printed in
neighboring Lithuania and then brought across the border to
Belarus for distribution. That option remains legal and is how
the five other non-government Belarusian newspapers are
forced to operate, even though their content is largely
apolitical and focuses on economic issues.
        Hermianchuk noted that in the past year, Lukashenka has
succeeded in crushing the country's opposition political
structures and driving most of their leaders underground or
into exile. Now, he continued, Lukashenka has turned his
attention to the media in a final drive to silence all opposition
to his regime,
        As a short-term solution, the strategy appears to be
working. Hermianchuk said that soon after Lukashenka came to
power, when there were still several opposition publications
giving the public uncensored information, his approval rating
began to fall sharply. But since his campaign to suppress all
dissent, Lukashenka's popularity, especially among rural and
older residents, has actually risen. Hermianchuk estimated
that of the 40 percent of the population who support
Lukashenka, the vast majority has no independent access to
information.
        But he predicted the situation will not last. Young people,
he said, are fed up with the country's increasing isolation from
the rest of Europe and its economic stagnation. "They are a
completely new generation who grew up without the Soviet
value system," he said. "They will not tolerate a return to that
dark age. And their parents, who are increasingly unable to
subsist on their salaries and have to till their land allotments
to feed their families, are growing tired of the Lukashenka
administration."
        As for Hermianchuk and his colleagues, they will
continue their mission to spread the truth. Hermianchuk
recalled how he began publishing his first newspaper while
still at university. "I used to work as a typesetter in a state-
run printing house. Little by little, day by day, I would steal a
few of the lead type letters and bring them home. Eventually, I
had gathered all the letters in the alphabet, and that's how I
started printing my own newspaper."
        Hermianchuk smiled, but his expression quickly
refocused. "In 1937, some of Stalin's policemen came to seize
my grandfather's property, and he called them 'bandits' to their
face. He got 10 years in a labor camp for that. Today, if you
call Lukashenka's police 'bandits,' you'll get 10 days in prison."
        "It's not yet the same with Lukashenka, but the trend is
clear," Hermianchuk said. "It's our job to try to reverse it."

The author is an RFE/RL news editor.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
               Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

SUBSCRIBING:
1) To subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to
        listserv@listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu
2) In the text of your message, type
        subscribe RFERL-L YourFirstName YourLastName

UNSUBSCRIBING:
1) To un-subscribe to RFERL-L, please send a message to
        listserv@listserv.acsu.buffalo.edu
2) In the text of your message, type
        unsubscribe RFERL-L

Current and Back Issues
Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest are
online at:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/

Listen to news for 13 countries
RFE/RL programs for countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus,
Central Asia, Russia and the South Slavic region are online daily
at RFE/RL's 24-Hour LIVE Broadcast
Studio.
http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html

Reprint Policy
To receive reprint permission, please contact
Paul Goble, Publisher
Email: GobleP@rferl.org
Phone: 202-457-6947
Fax: 202-457-6992
Postal Address:  RFE/RL,  1201 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC  20036  USA

RFE/RL Newsline Staff:
* Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org
* Liz Fuller, Editor-in-Chief, CarlsonE@rferl.org
* Patrick Moore, Team Leader, MooreP@rferl.org
* Laurie Belin, BelinL@rferl.org
* Bruce Pannier, PannierB@rferl.org
* Michael Shafir, ShafirM@rferl.org
* Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org

Freelance And Occasional Contributors
* Fabian Schmidt
* Matyas Szabo
* Jeremy Bransten
* Jolyon Naegele
* Anthony Wesolowsky
* Julia Guechakov

RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole