As courage endagers life even so fear preserves it. - Leonardo Da Vinci
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 9, Part II, 15 January 1998



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

* UKRAINE RATIFIES TREATY WITH RUSSIA

* POLICE BAN DEMONSTRATIONS IN MONTENEGRO

* U.S. SLAMS BULATOVIC, MILOSEVIC

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REGIONAL AFFAIRS

UKRAINE RATIFIES TREATY WITH RUSSIA. By a vote of
317 to 27, Ukrainian lawmakers ratified a friendship treaty
with Russia on 14 January.  President Leonid Kuchma and his
Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, signed the treaty last May
following years of disputes over the division of the
former Soviet Black Sea Fleet. The document reaffirms the
countries' borders and thereby reduces Moscow's chances of
claiming Crimea or its port city Sevastopol, as several Russian
politicians have advocated. The Ukrainian parliament has yet to
consider ratifying several agreements on the fleet, which are
expected to face considerable opposition from lawmakers. PB

YELTSIN PLEASED WITH RATIFICATION OF TREATY.
Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii told
Interfax on 14 January that Boris Yeltsin welcomed the
"convincing ratification" of the treaty by the Ukrainian
parliament and expects the Russian parliament to "give equally
convincing support" to the document. The Russian State Duma
is scheduled to consider the treaty in early February. Although
Duma First Deputy Speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov predicted on 14
January that the treaty will be ratified, the document is
expected to meet with vocal opposition from some Duma
members, including Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic
Party of Russia faction and Popular Power faction co-leader
Sergei Baburin. They have called for more transmissions of
Russian television broadcasts in Ukraine. Baburin has also
warned that Russia will pave the way for Ukraine's possible
accession to NATO if it ratifies a treaty renouncing all claims on
Ukrainian territory. LB

SPOKESMAN SAYS YELTSIN NOT PREJUDICED AGAINST
BALTICS. Also on 14 January, Yastrzhembskii said that Yeltsin
wants a "constructive dialogue" with the leaders of the Baltic
States, Interfax and BNS reported on 14 January. The Russian
news agency quoted Yastrzhembskii as stressing that Yeltsin
has "no prejudices" against any of the Baltic leaders and that
Russia intends to continue to develop relations with the Baltic
States. Yastrzhembskii pointed to progress in Russian-
Lithuanian relations but noted that ties with Estonia and Latvia
are not developing well because the rights of ethnic Russians in
those countries are being violated. JC

ADAMKUS SAYS KALININGRAD "INTERNATIONAL
PROBLEM." Lithuanian President-elect Valdas Adamkus told
the Polish weekly "Wrpost" that the status of Kaliningrad Oblast
remains an "international problem," BNS reported on 14
January. Adamkus explained that statement by noting that "at
the Potsdam Conference, the great powers transferred
Kaliningrad to the administration of the USSR, but only
temporarily--in other words, until such a time when a decision
is made as to what is to be done further." He argued that
problems related to the region should be resolved by
international organizations, while stressing that cooperation
with "all neighbors" is indispensable for peace "in this part of
Europe." By contrast, incumbent President Algirdas Brazauskas
last month distanced himself from challenges by Lithuanian
politicians regarding Kaliningrad's status. Such challenges,
Brazauskas said, "complicate our relations with neighboring
countries and, of course, with  Russia." JC

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN COURT TO RULE ON DEATH PENALTY. Chief
Justice Ivan Tymchenko has said the Constitutional Court will
rule whether capital punishment is constitutional, RFE/RL
reported on 14 January. Tymchenko did not say when the
ruling would be made. The Council of Europe has threatened to
suspend Ukraine if it continues carrying out the death penalty.
Kyiv pledged to stop executions when it joined the council in
1995. The following year, however, well over 100 executions
took place in the country. PB

BELARUSIAN DISSIDENT PLANS DRIVE AGAINST
LUKASHENKA. Exiled opposition leader Zianon Paznyak said
his organization, the Belarusian Popular Front, will soon hold
petition drives in a bid to force out President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka. Paznyak told the Polish paper "Zycie" in
Washington that this plan may be the reason the government
recently claimed the opposition was planning a coup attempt
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 14 January 1998). Paznyak said
the government considers the petition drive a "dangerous
development" and intends to prevent it. PB

"SVABODA" TO BE PUBLISHED UNDER NEW NAME.
"Svaboda" editor Ihar Hermianchuk has said he will begin
publishing a tri-weekly newspaper called "Naviny" (News),
ITAR-TASS reported on 14 January. Hermianchuk said the first
edition will appear on 16 January and will have the same
editorial content as "Svaboda," which was shut down by the
Belarusian government last fall (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25
November 1997). "Svaboda" was the country's largest-
circulation opposition newspaper. "Naviny" will initially be
available for purchase only at kiosks. PB

DIPLOMATS MEET WITH LUKASHENKA.  President
Lukashenka has told a group of ambassadors in Minsk that his
country has "many serious problems" with the EU and the
Council of Europe, Interfax reported on 14 January. "I think
you have realized that putting limits on contacts and [other]
...forms of pressure are counterproductive," he told them.
Lukashenka said he hoped that the Organization on Security
and Cooperation in Europe's mission in Belarus (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 13 January 1998) will respect "the Belarusian
people's sovereign rights." PB

ESTONIA'S HANSAPANK MERGES TO CREATE LARGEST
BANK IN BALTICS. Estonia's largest commercial bank,
Hansapank, has announced it will merge with Hoiupank, the
country's third-largest such bank, ETA and BNS reported on 14
January. The new bank will be the largest in the Baltic States,
with assets totaling  $1 billion. Shares in Hansapank and
Hoiupank led Estonia's stock market boom last year but lost in
value when the market crashed last fall. According to dpa,
analysts claim Hansapank will benefit more from the deal, as it
was forced to postpone a share issue at the end of 1997 owing
to the depressed stock prices. The merger  must still be
approved by the shareholders of both banks and by the Bank
of Estonia. JC

LITHUANIA, U.S. SIGN INVESTMENT TREATY. Lithuanian
and U.S. officials, meeting in Washington on 14 January, signed
an investment treaty  intended to  help expand trade between
the two countries, Reuters reported. The treaty guarantees the
right to invest on terms no less favorable than those accorded
domestic investors in most business sectors, the news agency
quoted the U.S. Trade Representative's Office as saying. JC

TENSIONS CONTINUE IN NORTHERN POLAND. Hundreds of
people in the northern city of Slupsk attended the funeral of a
13-year-old boy who died allegedly after being beaten by
police (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 January 1998), AFP reported
on 14 January. The boy's death sparked two nights of riots that
left dozens injured and property damaged. Nearly 100 people
were arrested. The situation in the industrial town remains
tense. Meanwhile, a federal investigation is to be conducted. PB

CZECH GOVERNMENT AGREES ON HOW TO DISSOLVE
PARLIAMENT. The cabinet on 14 January approved a bill on
state-owned land that will be submitted to the Chamber of
Deputies to be tied to a confidence vote, Premier Josef
Tosovsky told journalists. Rejection of the bill or failure to
discuss it within 90 days will trigger the constitutional
mechanism for dissolving the parliament (see "RFE/RL
Newsline,"13 January 1998). The government also discussed a
first draft of its program, to be submitted to the parliament's
approval, and assigned the task of drawing up a second version
to several groups of ministers, CTK reported, citing government
spokesman Vladimir Mlynar. MS

DIVERGENT VIEWS ON CZECH RATIFICATION OF NATO
ENLARGEMENT.  Petr Necas, the chairman of the Chamber of
Deputies' Defense and Security Commission and a member of
the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), said on 14 January it is
essential that the ratification of Czech membership in NATO
take place before early elections scheduled for June. He said it
cannot be ruled out that the Social Democrats (CSSD), who are
demanding a referendum on joining NATO, will win those
elections.  But Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman told CTK that
it would be a "blatant diplomatic blunder" if the step were
taken before all NATO countries have ratified the alliance's
enlargement.  Polls show that the CSSD has a good chance of
winning the next elections. MS

SLOVAK POLL SHOWS OPPOSITION AHEAD. A public
opinion survey conducted by the Institute for Public Affairs
confirms the 1997 trend in which  Premier Vladimir Meciar's
Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) lost much of its
former political backing, Reuters reported. The HZDS, with 25.7
percent support, is trailing the opposition Slovak Democratic
Coalition (31.1 percent). The HZDS's coalition partners are not
faring well either. The far-right Slovak National Party is
supported by 6.8 percent, while the far-left Workers Party
would fail to pass the 5 percent threshold for parliamentary
representation if elections were held now. The opposition Party
of the Democratic Left and the Hungarian Coalition are backed
by 11 percent each. MS

SLOVAKIA SEEKS TO MEND TIES WITH HUNGARY.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Milan Tokar on 14 January said
Bratislava has proposed that the foreign ministers of the two
countries meet in Budapest on 22 January, Reuters reported.
One day earlier, citing unidentified Slovak sources, the
Hungarian daily "Nepszabadsag" reported that Slovak Foreign
Minister Zdenka Kramplova was due in Budapest on 22
January. MS

GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS SETTLEMENT STILLS HANGS
IN BALANCE. Government commissioner Janos Nemcsok on 14
January told the parliamentary Environment Commission that
Hungary has not committed itself to the construction of a new
hydroelectric power plant to replace the abandoned project. He
added that it would not do so before the completion of studies
showing the likely impact of the new project on the
environment and its economic costs, the daily "Nepszava"
reported on 15 January. But a source close to the negotiations
told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bratislava on 14 January that
the sides are nearing an agreement. The source said Hungary is
proposing to build a power plant between Szob and Budapest
instead of completing the originally planned dam (see also
"RFE/RL Newsline,"  13 January 1998). MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

POLICE BAN DEMONSTRATIONS IN MONTENEGRO. Some
8,000 supporters of outgoing  President Momir Bulatovic
clashed with police in Podgorica on 14 January, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. The
protesters tried to storm government buildings and attacked
police with hand grenades, leaving 45 policemen  and six
demonstrators injured. Police regained the upper hand only
when special units arrived. Interior Minister Filip Vujanovic
said on 15 January that Bulatovic's supporters have proven
themselves to be violent, and he banned further
demonstrations. Vujanovic appealed to "all government and
intellectual circles in Serbia" who might be able to help calm
the situation in Montenegro to do so. PM

POLITICAL STANDOFF CONTINUES IN MONTENEGRO.
Talks in Podgorica between Bulatovic, who is an ally of
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, and reformist
President-elect Milo Djukanovic ended inconclusively on 14
January. Bulatovic remained adamant that the 19 October 1997
presidential vote was rigged and called the election "a real
crime that the Montenegrins will not forget." Yugoslav Prime
Minister Radoje Kontic, who led mediation efforts, said he will
continue to try to negotiate an end to the stalemate. PM

U.S. SLAMS BULATOVIC, MILOSEVIC. Robert Gelbard, the
U.S. special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, said in Belgrade on
15 January that Washington "is deeply concerned and the
international community...deeply offended by the absolutely
outrageous behavior by...Bulatovic in inciting these illegal
riots.... I hold him responsible along with his collaborators for
this outrageous, illegal behavior." Gelbard added that he also
holds "Milosevic responsible for supporting these
demonstrations [and] for not restraining his colleague Mr.
Bulatovic...." Gelbard said on 14 January in Sarajevo that
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warned Milosevic in a
telephone conversation the previous weekend not to disrupt
the peaceful transition of power in Montenegro. PM

MONTENEGRO APPEALS TO MAJOR POWERS. On 14
January,  Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Perovic sent a
letter to the ambassadors of Western countries and Russia
asking them to take "urgent diplomatic steps" with the
Belgrade authorities to calm the political situation in
Montenegro. In related news, "Nasa Borba" reported on 15
January that Djukanovic will visit Washington in February. PM

ETHNIC ALBANIANS TO JOIN NEW MONTENEGRIN
GOVERNMENT. Representatives of the Democratic Union of
Albanians and the Democratic League (two ethnic Albanian
political parties represented in the Montenegrin parliament)
told BETA news agency in Ulcinj on 15 January that the two
parties will join the new Montenegrin government. Votes of
Montenegro's Albanian and Muslim minorities played a key
role in enabling Djukanovic to defeat Bulatovic. PM

EASTERN SLAVONIA RETURNS TO CROATIA. President
Franjo Tudjman said in Zagreb on 14 January that his
government will continue its policies aimed at peacefully
reintegrating eastern Slavonia into Croatia once Croatian
sovereignty is restored on 15 January. Tudjman noted that
international aid will be vital in ensuring the return of 70,000
Croatian refugees who fled the region when the Serbs
conquered it in 1991. Meanwhile in Vukovar, ethnic Serbian
political leaders  Milorad Pupovac, Vojislav Stanimirovic and
Milos Vonjnovic called on Zagreb to regain the confidence of the
Serbs by respecting Croatia's commitments in the 1995 Erdut
agreement to preserve basic rights for the Serbs, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Vukovar. PM

BOSNIAN SERB TV BACK ON AIR. Hard-line supporters of
Radovan Karadzic resumed television broadcasting from Pale
on 14 January. Two transmitters beamed the private station's
programs to an area approximately 8  miles wide around Pale,
which includes eastern Sarajevo. NATO peacekeepers took
control of TV Pale's former transmitters and relay stations last
fall and gave responsibility for Bosnian Serb state-run TV to
supporters of Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic in
Banja Luka. PM

ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT DENIES PLANS TO SACK
JUDGES. Spokesmen for President Rexhep Meidani on 14
January denied reports that the Socialist-led government plans
to sack a large number of judges and prosecutors who were
trained in six-month crash courses in 1993 and appointed by
the previous Democratic Party government (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 23 December 1997). The spokesmen dismissed
demands by some of the judges, who are on hunger strike, for
a new law requiring all judges to have university law degrees
to be repealed. The spokesmen said that the new legislation
will apply only to people appointed to the bench in the future.
They added that the law protects the  judges and prosecutors
appointed by the Democrats since it allows them to appeal to
the Supreme Court against disciplinary measures. FS

OSCE CALLS ON ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS TO
PARTICIPATE IN PARLIAMENT. Gerard Stoudman,  the
director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights, on 14 January dismissed calls by the Democratic
Party  for early elections, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported.
Stoudman, at the end of a three-day visit to Tirana, also called
on the Democrats to end their boycott of the legislature and to
participate in drafting a new constitution. He stressed that the
document needs broad public support. Democratic Party leader
Sali Berisha, however, said that his formation will not return to
parliament simply "to serve as window-dressing for the
government." FS

ROMANIAN DEMOCRATS WITHDRAW SUPPORT FROM
PREMIER CIORBEA. The National  Council of the Democratic
Party on 14 January withdrew its support from Premier Victor
Ciorbea, saying a  new government should be formed by
another premier. The council also tasked the party leadership
with negotiating the new cabinet's reform program with the
members of the current coalition. The deadline for ending those
negotiations is 31 March, and the party will quit the coalition if
they are not successfully concluded by then. The council
ignored an appeal by President Emil Constantinescu, who urged
the Democrats not to dismember the coalition, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. Democratic Party leader Petre
Roman criticized the National Peasant Party Christian
Democratic (PNTCD) for promoting the large-scale restitution of
property to former owners and for alleged  pro-monarchy
sympathies. MS

COALITION PARTNERS REACT TO DEMOCRATS'
DECISION. PNTCD chairman Ion Diaconescu, said the
Democrats' decision amounted to "blackmail, demagogy, and
hypocrisy." He said the government's  records show  that the
Democrats never raised with the cabinet the issues they are
now complaining about. He added that the Democrats will be
held responsible by the public for halting the reform process
and the struggle against inflation as well as for promoting an
atmosphere of instability that will discourage foreign investors,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. On 15 January, Diaconescu
told Radio Bucharest that the probable solution to the crisis is
early elections. National Liberal Party leader Mircea Ionescu-
Quintus said a change of government at this point would lead to
"stagnation." MS

MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION PARTY WANTS TO BAN KGB
COLLABORATORS FROM RUNNING. Simion Certan, the co-
chairman of the Democratic Forces Alliance (AFD), told
journalists in Chisinau on 14 January that the alliance proposes
that "former secret collaborators and informers of the [Soviet-
era] KGB" be banned from running in the elections scheduled
for later this year. Certan said the parliament must pass
legislation forcing the Security Ministry to disclose the names
of those candidates who are former secret service collaborators
or informers. He said he will initiate an amendment to the
electoral law to that end, BASA-press reported. According to
Certan, the ban should extend to deputies elected in 1994 on
the lists of the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova and the
Socialist Unity-Edinstvo bloc, who "are responsible for the
present state of affairs in Moldova." MS

WORLD BANK LOAN TO MOLDOVA. The World Bank's
International Development Association (IDA) on 14 January
approved a $5 million loan to Moldova to develop  a
cooperative rural banking system, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Washington reported. The loan carries no interest charges and
is repayable over 35 years. The IDA is a World Bank affiliate
that helps the poorest nations. MS

BULGARIAN PREMIER CONSIDERS RETALIATION OVER
RUSSIAN GAS SUPPLIES. Ivan Kostov says Bulgaria might
reduce Russia's gas transit across its territory if Gazprom
curtails deliveries for Bulgarian consumption, ITAR-TASS
reported on 14 January. Kostov said Russia annually pumps 8
billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey, Serbia, Greece, and
Macedonia through Bulgaria. Meanwhile, the opposition
Socialist Party has submitted a motion of non-confidence in the
government, citing the cabinet's bungled talks with Gazprom as
one of the reasons. It is unclear whether the other opposition
parties represented in the legislature will support the motion,
which is to be debated in late January.  MS

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