We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us. - George Eliot
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 1, No. 186, Part II, 29 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

Note to readers: "RFE/RL Newsline" will not appear
on 31 December or 1 January, which are public
holidays in the Czech Republic, or on 2 January.

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Headlines, Part II

* KLAUS, TOSOVSKY CLASH OVER NEW CZECH
GOVERNMENT

* HARDLINERS HAMSTRING BOSNIAN SERB
PARLIAMENT...

* ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

FORMER UKRAINIAN PREMIER FACES EMBEZZLEMENT
CHARGES. Ukrainian prosecutors announced on 24
December that they plan to charge former Prime Minister
Pavel Lazarenko with embezzling some $ 2.5 million and
spending it on his dacha, ITAR-TASS reported. Lazarenko,
who was prime minister from May 1996 to July 1997, is the
leader of the Hromada Party, one of the largest opposition
parties in Ukraine.   PG

UKRAINE PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO COUNCIL OF
EUROPE. In a letter to the president of the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma said that he and his government
have done all they could to end the death penalty in Ukraine
as they had promised, but that the country's parliament had
refused to act, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 December. PACE
has said that it will suspend Ukraine's participation in that
body unless it abolishes the death penalty, something the
Verkhovna Rada has refused to do.  PG

LONG BALLOT MAY DELAY UKRAINE
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.  Central Election
Commission chief Mykaylo Ryabets told Ukrainian television
on 24 December that Kyiv might have to delay
parliamentary elections scheduled for March, 1998, because
the country lacks the physical capacity to print what would
be three-meter-long ballots. The ballots are so lengthy
because the parliament has required a large amount of
personal data to be listed under each name.   PG

ORT JOURNALIST REFUSES TO TESTIFY AT BELARUS
TRIAL. When the Belarus court resumed his trial on 23
December, ORT journalist Pavel Sheremet announced he
would not give testimony at a trial he and many others have
assumed is rigged, ITAR-TASS reported. Sheremet and his
cameraman Dmitriy Zavadskiy are formally accused of
illegally crossing the Belarus-Lithuania border; Sheremet
and many observers assume he was charged because of his
critical reporting on Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka.   PG

LITHUANIA CLEARS WAY FOR LILEIKAS TRIAL. By a
64 to 0 vote, the Lithuanian parliament on 23 December
amended the country's criminal code to allow prosecutors to
try those accused of genocide regardless of the condition of
their health, BNS reported. This action opens the way for the
trial of Alesandras Lileikas, 90, who is accused of
participating in Nazi atrocities but whose trial has been put
off in the past because of his declining health.  PG

OFFICIAL RESULTS OF LITHUANIAN PRESIDENTIAL
VOTE.  The Lithuanian Central Election commission on 27
December released official results for the 21 December
presidential vote. Some 71.77 percent of eligible voters took
part. Arturas Paulauskas received 44.73 percent; Valdas
Adamkus drew 27.56 percent; and Vytautas Landsbergis got
15.73 percent. Because none of the candidates received a
majority, the top two -- Paulauskas and Adamkus -- will
face each other in a runoff on 4 January.  The second round
of the campaign is to last from 27 December to 2 January.
PG

LATVIAN ECONOMIC GROWTH CONTINUES TO
EXPAND.  Arvils Sautins, the head of the Central Statistical
Department, told BNS on 22 December that a strong fourth
quarter meant that the Latvian economy should record six
percent growth for 1997, up from 2.8 percent in 1996.   PG

CHERNOMYRDIN HOPES ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER
TREATY NEAR. In a letter delivered to Estonian Prime
Minister Mart Siimann on 23 December, his Russian
counterpart Viktor Chernomyrdin expressed the hope that a
border agreement between the two countries might be
signed soon, BNS reported. But as Siimann noted at a press
conference, Chernomyrdin did not indicate when that might
happen. Moreover, the Russian leader said nothing about
ratification, without which the agreement would lack legal
force.  PG

POLISH PRESIDENT VETOES PENSION BILL...
Aleksander Kwasniewski on 23 December vetoed a bill
curbing faster pension growth for the military and other
public sector services and bringing it in line with the overall
population. The average military pension is now more than
twice the national average. The law was designed to cut
public spending by $110.7 million in 1998. Kwasniewski
argued that the government had failed to consult those
affected by the law and that it appears unconnected with an
upcoming reform of the social security system. The
government intends to reduce the budget deficit to 1.5
percent of GDP in 1998 from this year's expected 1.8
percent. FS

... AND REMOVAL OF SEX EDUCATION... Kwasniewski on
26 December sent back to parliament for review another
amendment  that would remove compulsory sex education
from school curricula. The amendment was passed by
parliament on 11 December. Kwasniewski's top advisor,
Danuta Huebner, said that "the president cannot agree to this
because Polish youths would thus be deprived of their basic
rights ... to information on their own development and ... to
knowledge about various aspects of health." The center-right
government of Jerzy Buzek is short of a three-fifths majority
to overrule Kwasniewski's veto. FS

...BUT RESTRICTIVE ABORTION LEGISLATION
RETURNS TO FORCE. A restrictive abortion law from 1993
returned to force on 23 December, six months after the
constitutional court declared a more liberal law invalid. In
1996 parliament had liberalized the law that allowed
abortion only if giving birth would endanger the woman's
health, the fetus is irreparably damaged or the pregnancy
resulted from rape or incest. The more liberal rules allowed
women to seek abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy
for financial or emotional reasons. Kwasniewski has
campaigned for abortion freedoms but said that another
initiative to liberalize the law would have to come from
Parliament. FS

KLAUS, TOSOVSKY CLASH OVER NEW CZECH
GOVERNMENT. Outgoing Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus
accused his successor Josef Tosofsky on 23 December of
snubbing him by holding coalition talks with rivals in his
own Civic Democratic Party (ODS). The previous day
Tosovsky had started coalition negotiations with ODS
member and Klaus' critic Ivan Pilip and other former
coalition allies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 December 1997).
Klaus said on 27 December that Pilip is not on a list of 20
ODS candidates for ministerial positions. He also
characterized as "scandalous" suggestions by Civic
Democratic Alliance chairman Jiri Skalicky, who had said
that Pilip's parliamentary grouping of the ODS was a better
partner for coalition negotiations than the party's executive.
FS

POLICE CATCH 21 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AT
HUNGARIAN-SLOVAK BORDER. Hungarian Border guards
arrested 21 federal Yugoslav citizens near the border to
Slovakia on 27 December. The migrants were waiting for
frontier runners to guide them when police discovered them.
The immigrants told police that they had paid $ 300 each to
get smuggled all the way into Germany. FS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

HARDLINERS HAMSTRING BOSNIAN SERB
PARLIAMENT... Legislators representing Radovan
Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) and its ally,
Vojislav Seselj's Serbian Radical Party (SRS), prevented the
opening session of the new Bosnian Serb parliament  from
doing anything more than confirming the legislators'
mandates. At the session that met in Bijeljina on 27
December,  Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic
wanted legislators to elect Mladen Ivanic prime minister.
She also wanted parliament's top offices to be divided
among the main Serbian parties. The hard-liners, however,
demanded all key positions for themselves. The next session
is slated for 12 January. PM

...AS MUSLIMS AND NON-NATIONALISTS WALK OUT.
The deadlock is likely to continue at the January session
because none of the main factions has a clear majority. The
SDS and SRS together hold 39 seats, which is three short of a
majority in the 83-seat body. Plavsic's Serbian People's
League (SNS) has 15 seats, and her potential allies among
Serbian parties control 11. A further 18 seats are held by
Muslims, Croats, and other deputies from the mainly
Muslim-Croat federation, who were elected by refugees. An
RFE/RL correspondent reported from Bijeljina on 27
December that the deputies from the federation walked out
before the end of the session. PM

PLAVSIC CALLS FOR PROSPERITY. President Plavsic told
parliament in Bijeljina on 27 December that it must develop
a program to combat the Republika Srpska's main problems,
which she identified as unemployment, poverty, and
difficulties in making ends meet. Plavsic also stressed that
representatives of the Republika Srpska will take part in
joint Bosnian institutions as equal participants. She called
the Republika Srpska "a state of the Serb people," but added
that "there is room in it for all others who are ready to
accept our values and defend it as we do." PM

SERBS WARNED AGAINST BECOMING "NORTH KOREA."
Hanns-Heinrich Schumacher, a deputy to High
Representative Carlos Westendorp, told the Bosnian Serb
parliament in Bijeljina on 27 December that the Republika
Srpska risks becoming the "North Korea of Europe, where a
corrupt few enjoy their lives to the detriment of the whole
society and lock their territory to the outside world." He
called on deputies to open transportation links to the rest of
Bosnia, to take part in joint institutions, to allow refugees to
return home, and to help in the work of the Hague-based
war crimes tribunal. PM

IZETBEGOVIC PRAISES "TOLERANT ISLAM." Alija
Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the Bosnian joint
presidency, said in Sarajevo on 26 December that his Party
of Democratic Action (SDA) contains some extremists but
that it is basically a bastion of what he called "tolerant
Islam" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 December 1997). He
argued that the SDA fights all forms of extremism, whether
it be that of Serbs, Croats, or Muslims. Izetbegovic stated
that the poor state of Croatian-Bosnian relations is due to the
Croatian leadership's lack of respect for Bosnian sovereignty.
He suggested that the Croatian leadership might not have
given up on its earlier plans to join the Serbian leadership in
a partition of Bosnia. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, for
his part, recently told Italian media that he continues to
believe that Islam presents a threat to Europe. PM

BOSNIA HUNTS ARAB TERRORISTS.  Bosnian Interior
Minister Mehmed Zilic told Croatian TV on 26 December that
his police have arrested two Arabs and are looking for a
third in connection with a bomb blast in Mostar in
September that injured 50. Zilic added that "the method by
which the terrorist attack was carried out led us to believe
that we were dealing with professional terrorists from
Islamic countries." Croatian officials and journalists have
long blamed what they call Islamic extremists for continued
tensions between Croats and Muslims, who are nominal
allies. PM

DOCUMENTS ON ARKAN STOLEN. Swedish police are
investigating the recent theft of documents about war
crimes committed by Serbian paramilitary leader Zeljko
Raznatovic, better known as Arkan, "Nasa Borba" reported
on 27 December. The documents were allegedly stolen from
the car of a Swedish diplomat working at the Hague-based
war crimes tribunal, who was en route from Stockholm to
The Hague. Swedish police protested to the court about what
they called the "unprofessional conduct" of the driver. The
police said that they fear that the anonymity of some
witnesses mentioned in the documents might be
compromised. PM

NEW SERBIAN PRESIDENT TAKES OFFICE. Milan
Milutinovic, a supporter of Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic, took the oath of office as president of Serbia in
Belgrade on 29 December. The previous day, legislators
belonging to Vojislav Seselj's Serbian Radical Party
announced that they will boycott parliament if it does not
set up a commission to investigate the 21 December election,
in which Milutinovic defeated Seselj. PM

VOJVODINA COALITION DEMANDS AUTONOMY.
Representatives of eight political parties and other
organizations agreed in Novi Sad on 27 December to form
the Vojvodina movement, an RFE/RL correspondent reported
from that city. Their goal is to restore the province's
autonomy, which was abolished in 1988 following street
demonstrations organized by Serbian leader Slobodan
Milosevic. PM

KOSOVO ALBANIANS CALL FOR PROTEST. Student
representatives in Pristina urged Kosovars on 27 December
to stage a peaceful protest on 30 December to demand the
reopening of the Albanian-language section of Pristina
University. Several thousand Kosovars held peaceful
marches in several cities and towns on 24 and 25 December
on behalf of the university, but student leaders suspended
the demonstrations following what they called attacks and
provocations by the Serbian police. Serbian media reported
on 25 December that unknown assailants shot at a police car
near Podujevo and tossed grenades at a police building in
that same town, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Pristina. PM

BOMB BLAST IN WESTERN MACEDONIA. An explosion
damaged at least four cars  and surrounding buildings in
Tetovo on 24 December. Another explosion one week earlier
had damaged a court building in Gostivar. Both cities have a
majority Albanian population. Police have arrested two
suspects with Macedonian names in connection with the
Tetovo blast, according to Reuters. There were no casualties
in the explosions and nobody claimed responsibility for the
attack. FS

US DEFENSE SECRETARY DISCUSSES MACEDONIA'S
FUTURE AFTER UNPREDEP. William Cohen said that he
discussed with President Kiro Gligorov "ways which would
be helpful for tracking some sort of security arrangements"
after the mandate of the United Nation Preventive
Deployment Force in Macedonia (UNPREDEP) runs out in
August 1998. Cohen met with Gligorov in Skopje on 24
December during a Christmas visit to the 300 US troops in
the 700 strong peacekeeping contingent. He pointed out that
the US was "looking for creative ways in which we can be
helpful," after the withdrawal. Macedonian Defense Minister
Lazar Kitanovski said that both sides discussed setting up a
joint training center, MIC reported. FS

ALBANIAN BISHOP ENDS JUDGES' HUNGER STRIKE.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Rrok Mirdita persuaded 22
Albanian judges on 26 December to give up their hunger
strike (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 December 1997). They had
moved their protest against possible dismissals to the Heart
of Christ Church during a Christmas mass on 23 December.
The previous day police had evicted them from the Tirana
court building. Mirdita promised to arrange a meeting with
President Rexhep Meidani. The judges protest against a law
requiring a university law degree as a precondition for
employment, which they say favors communist-era degrees.
Up to 400 judges and prosecutors trained in six months
courses in 1993 may be disqualified by the law. Meanwhile,
the High Council of Justice dismissed one judge and took
disciplinary measures against two others on 26 December in
connection with the protests. FS

EU SENDS EMERGENCY AID TO FLOODED ALBANIAN
REGIONS. The EU has  given 10 tons of emergency food aid
to 7,500 people affected by floods in northern Albania. It
also is preparing to ship additional food, blankets, winter
clothing and shelter materials. The heaviest rains since 1985
have inundated about 8,000 hectars of land around Lezha,
much of which lies below sea level (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
22 December 1997). FS

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS. Foreign
Minister Adrian Severin announced his resignation on 23
December after an investigation failed to substantiate his
allegations that local politicians and journalists were
working as spies for foreign governments (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 23 December 1997). The following day President
Emil Constantinescu said he would swear in Andrei Plesu as
Severin's successor on 29 December, after consultations with
the government coalition. He did not comment on Severin's
move. Plesu, 49, was a leading anti-communist dissident
and the first post-communist culture minister. FS

ROMANIAN POLICE BEAT NUNS AT CHRISTMAS
MASS. Plain-clothes policemen kicked and punched
Orthodox nuns in the face at a Christmas mass on 25
December in Bucharest. The nuns had disrupted the service
by shouting slogans criticizing Patriarch Teoctist for
collaborating with the regime of communist-era dictator
Nicolae Ceausescu. They were then violently evicted and
assaulted outside the cathedral. Many inside and outside the
clergy have called for the patriarch's resignation for
"passively" standing by while Ceausescu demolished 90
churches between 1978 and 1989. Teoctist is also
controversial for planning to build a $150 million super-
cathedral in Bucharest rather than spending the money to
rebuild the destroyed churches. Meanwhile, former King
Michael, who was present during the service with his family,
said he would permanently move to Romania from his Swiss
exile. FS

BULGARIA'S PRESIDENT GIVES FIRST CHRISTMAS
MESSAGE. Petar Stoyanov on 25 December praised what he
called the effort of all Bulgarians to cope in difficult times.
Speaking to young people, he added that he is "sure that
young Bulgarians will be playing a decisive role tomorrow,
not only in the fate of their own country but also in that of a
united Europe." Stoyanov, who is a practicing Christian,
urged "all non-Christian Bulgarians luck, joy and happy
days." His predecessor, Zhelyu Zhelev, is an atheist who
delivered his main address at New Year's. PM

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