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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 30 , Part II, 13 February 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 30 , Part II, 13 February 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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FIVE NEW LANGUAGES ADDED TO REAL AUDIO SCHEDULE
Listen to one hour of news in Bulgarian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and
Romanian at the RFE/RL Web site:
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Headlines, Part II

* EU SUPPORTS TIGHTER SECURITY ON POLISH BORDER

* PLAVSIC SAYS NEW GOVERNMENT HAS INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT

* SOLANA SAYS TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM BOSNIA POSSIBLE THIS YEAR

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

GAZPROM THREATENS TO CUT GAS SUPPLIES TO UKRAINE. Gazprom head Rem
Vyakhirev on 12 February warned Ukraine that its debt to the Russian gas
giant must be paid soon or fuel deliveries will cease, AFP reported.
Vyakhirev said Ukraine must pay its nearly $1.1 billion debt by the end of
March. At the same time, he acknowledged that there are  "no realistic
guarantees" that this can be done. Gazprom reduced gas supplies to Ukraine
last summer in a bid to collect unpaid bills (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24
July 1997). PB

TURKISH PREMIER IN KYIV, CRIMEA. Mesut Yilmaz and his Ukrainian
counterpart, Valery Pustovoitenko, met in Kyiv on 12 February and signed
three accords, including one on the Black Sea, AFP reported. Pustovoitenko
noted  that Turkey is an "influential partner" in the region. The Black Sea
agreement is aimed at preventing conflicts between Turkish fishermen and
the Ukrainian coast guard, such as the one last month in which two people
drowned (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 January 1998). Yilmaz, who is to visit a
Crimean Tatar village on the last day of his two-day trip, said the Tatars
are a "cultural bridge" between the two countries. He expressed
satisfaction with Kyiv's efforts in protecting the rights of the Tatars. PB

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER DETAINED. Andrei Klimov, a member of the
parliament disbanded by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in 1996, has been
arrested on fraud and corruption charges in Minsk, Belarusian television
reported on 12 February. Klimov was a member of  a legislative committee of
the disbanded parliament that had been investigating constitutional
violations by Lukashenka. Another former deputy, Anatoly Lebedko, said the
government has been auditing Klimov's company for several months but has
found no evidence of wrongdoing. Lebedko claims the arrest is strictly for
political reasons. PB

ESTONIAN PRESIDENT AGAIN VETOES CLEMENCY LAW. Lennart Meri has again
rejected the clemency law, saying the legislation is at odds with the
president's constitutional rights, ETA and BNS reported on 12 February,
citing a statement issued by the president's office. Under the proposed
legislation, a clemency committee would be created to advise the president.
Meri, who rejected the law for the first time in October 1997, argued that
the constitution provides for no such committee. If the parliament returns
the law to the president without any changes, the Supreme Court will decide
the issue. JC

LATVIAN LAWMAKERS REJECT AMENDMENT TO CITIZENSHIP LAW. The parliament on 12
February rejected an amendment to the citizenship law whereby children born
to non-Latvians after 1991 would automatically receive Latvian citizenship,
BNS reported. The vote was 31 to 20 with 10 abstentions. A government
coalition agreement rules out amending the citizenship law, but both
Latvia's Way and Democratic Party Saimnieks are in favor of the coalition's
Cooperation Council seeking a solution to the issue. The same day,
lawmakers returned to the standing committees the controversial amendments
to the labor code, which President Guntis Ulmanis had vetoed the previous
day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 February 1998). And in Moscow, Russian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadii Tarasov expressed satisfaction with
Ulmanis's veto as well as the hope that the Latvian parliament will "take
public opinion into account" and revise the labor code amendments. JC

LITHUANIANS PROTEST PHONE CHARGES. Some 5,000 mainly elderly people
protested in Vilnius on 12 February against new charges for local telephone
calls and the privatization of the state telecommunications company,
Reuters reported. The government recently decreed a charge equivalent to
1.75 U.S. cents per minute for local calls, thereby ending the decades-long
practice of telephoning locally free of charge. Government spokesman
Albinas Pilipauskas told the news agency that the phone charges are lower
than in neighboring Latvia and Estonia and do not cover all expenses
incurred by Lithuanian Telecom. JC

EU SUPPORTS TIGHTER SECURITY ON POLISH BORDER.  European Commissioner Hans
van den Broek has praised Warsaw's decision to tighten security on its
eastern border, an RFE/RL correspondent in Warsaw reported on 12 February.
Van den Broek said that imposing stricter visa regulations is a "difficult
measure" but that the EU supports the new measures. Poland stepped up visa
requirements at the start of the year, despite severe criticism from Russia
and Belarus. It recently decided to ease some requirements after Polish
traders complained of losses in cross-border trade (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
12 February 1998). Van den Broek also said Poland's heavy industry must be
restructured and privatized. He urged Warsaw to lower import tariffs on
steel. PB

GRAVES DESECRATED AT SOVIET CEMETERY IN POLAND. Vandals have uprooted
tombstones at a cemetery for Soviet soldiers in Lodz, ITAR-TASS reported on
11 February. An investigation into the incident has begun. Some 120 Soviets
are buried in the cemetery. According to the news agency, vandalism of
Soviet graves in Poland is rare. PB

CZECH PREMIER THREATENS TO DISMISS COALITION ASSOCIATE. Josef Tosovsky has
warned Jiri Skalicky that he will demand Skalicky's resignation both as
Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) leader and environment minister if he does
not reveal the identity of the anonymous donors who in 1995 contributed to
his party's funding, "Mlada Fronta Dnes" reported on 13 February. The daily
says Skalicky has already met with representatives of the secret sponsors
and tried to persuade them to reveal their identity. The previous day,
Skalicky told journalists that he would "fulfill his civic duty" if police
asked him to disclose the identity of the donors. In other news, President
Vaclav Havel has been hospitalized again after running a high temperature.
His spokesman, Ladislav Spacek, told CTK that the temperature was probably
caused by a viral disease. MS

POLL SHOWS RACIAL INTOLERANCE AMONG CZECHS. A public opinion poll published
on 12 February by the Public Opinion Research Institute shows 25 percent of
Czechs admitting they have feelings of racial intolerance, while 16 percent
say they  are intolerant toward others on grounds of nationality. According
to the study, racial and national intolerance is most often directed
against the Romani minority. The institute says resentment on grounds of
nationality dropped five percentage points in 1997, compared with 1996.
Resentment on racial grounds was lower in 1997 than at any time during the
last seven years and down seven percentage points on 1996. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENT TO CALL REFERENDUM? Opposition spokesman Mikulas Dzurinda
on 12 February said the opposition parties have appealed to President
Michal Kovac to set a date for a new referendum on electing the president
by popular vote, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. Presidential
spokesman Vladimir Stefko told Reuters that Kovac is currently studying the
recent ruling by the Constitutional Court that the government violated the
constitution by refusing to include in the May plebiscite a question on
electing the president by popular vote. He added that the president will
reach a decision within the next few days. MS

SLOVAK OFFICIAL EXPLAINS COUNTRY'S 'DISTORTED IMAGE.' Dusan Slobodnik, the
chairman of the Slovak parliament's Foreign Affairs Commission, on 12
February said the blame for his country's "distorted image" abroad must be
put on both the opposition, which is "betraying the country," and Czech
President Havel, who "is inciting his friend Mrs. Albright to stir up
anti-Slovak feelings," CTK reported, citing Germany's "General-Anzeiger." MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER CALLS FOR CRACKDOWN ON CRIME. "What prevails in Hungary
today is not public safety," Gyula Horn told a 12 February news conference
in response to the brutal killing of media magnate Janos Fenyo (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 February 1998). Horn said the police and the
Prosecutor-General's Office are unable to keep pace with the spread of
crime. He noted that 80 percent of robberies and murders in Hungary are
committed by foreigners, and he asked Interior Minister Gabor Kuncze to
submit a proposal to the government on introducing tougher entry rules for
foreigners. The cabinet has drawn up a five-point plan to improve public
safety, and a special unit has been set up to investigate Fenyo's murder,
Hungarian media reported. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

PLAVSIC SAYS NEW GOVERNMENT HAS INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT. On returning to
Banja Luka from visits to France and Austria, Bosnian Serb President
Biljana Plavsic said that international support for the new Bosnian Serb
government is "guaranteed," AFP reported on 12 February. Plavsic, whose
warm reception in Paris caused anger in Sarajevo (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11
February 1998), said European leaders told her they are pleased the
Republika Srpska has decided to "find its place" in Europe. Earlier the
same day, Plavsic warned that the peace process in Bosnia would fall apart
if the strategic town of Brcko is not allowed to remain a part of the
Republika Srpska. PB

SOLANA SAYS TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM BOSNIA POSSIBLE THIS YEAR. NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana said that Bosnia-Herzegovina's improved
political situation could lead NATO to make substantial cuts in the number
of troops stationed there, AFP reported on 12 February. Solana, speaking in
Washington, said the apparent acceptance of the new Bosnian Serb government
and the presidential elections scheduled for September could pave the way
to a small reduction in NATO-led Stabilization Forces immediately and a
significant cut back by the end of the year. PB

BOSNIAN SERBS INJURED BY MUSLIM CROWD. Two Bosnian Serbs were injured, one
seriously, when a Muslim crowd stoned three relief agency vehicles, a UN
spokesman said on 13 February. Representatives of the Swedish aid agency
Crossroads International were traveling with several  local Bosnian Serb
officials when the crowd stopped the two cars near Jablanica and began
stoning them. The crowd accused one of the Serbs of involvement in the
deaths of Muslims during the wars of the Yugoslav succession. Members of
Crossroads International and Danish SFOR troops were driving the cars. One
of the injured remains in hospital, while the other passengers were taken
back to Republika Srpska by SFOR troops. PB

WAR TRIBUNAL NEEDS MORE RESOURCES TO AVOID LENGTHY DELAYS. Judge Gabrielle
McDonald, the president of the UN War Crimes Tribunal for former
Yugoslavia, has appealed to the UN Security Council for additional
resources, Reuters reported on 13 February. McDonald, a U.S. citizen, said
in New York that the tribunal urgently needs to implement a witness
protection program, acquire additional jail cells, appoint another judge,
and set up a court with room for three judges. She said that if additional
resources are not forthcoming, it will take years to bring to trial the 20
suspects currently in custody. PB

MONTENEGRO APPROVES FOREIGNER OWNERSHIP OF MEDIA OUTLETS. The Montenegrin
parliament has adopted a law permitting foreigners to own media enterprises
in the Yugoslav republic, AFP reported on 12 February. The Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe aided deputies in drafting the law. The
legislature also passed a law on voter registration providing for a data
bank of registered voters to be created 20 days before an election. Changes
to the list can be made only by the Montenegrin Supreme Court. PB

CROATIAN GOVERNMENT REVOKES CONTROVERSIAL HOUSING  DECREE.  The cabinet on
12 February annulled a  January 1998 decree that would have permitted the
eviction of thousands of Serbs from state-owned apartments in Eastern
Slavonia  that had been formerly occupied by Croats. Those former occupants
would have then been entitled to return to their former homes. A spokesman
for the OSCE, which criticized the decree, welcomed the government's
decision and pledged to try to expedite the two-way return of refugees.
Eastern Slavonia reverted to Croatian control on 15 January after being
administered by the UN for two years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 January
1998). LF

ALBANIAN OPPOSITION REJECTS PARLIAMENT COMMISSION'S REPORT. "Rilindja
Demokratike," the mouthpiece of the opposition Democratic Party,  published
a statement by the party's leadership on 12 February rejecting the findings
of the parliamentary commission on what prompted the violent unrest that
swept Albania last spring. The commission, which had submitted its report
to the parliament the previous day, concluded that the Democratic Party had
armed its supporters in order to provoke a civil war and that the crisis
could have been averted if then Prime Minister Alexander Meksi had resigned
earlier. The Democratic Party leadership described the unrest as a
"Communist-led armed rebellion" aimed at destroying democracy in Albania
and bringing the Socialist Party to power. More than 1,500 people were
killed during the unrest. LF

ALBANIA, TURKEY SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTS.  Albanian President Rexhep
Meidani and his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, signed several
cooperation agreements in Ankara on 12 February, dpa reported. The two
presidents favorably evaluated the state of bilateral relations and pledged
closer cooperation in the political, economic, and cultural spheres.
Meidani, for his part, pointed out the importance of military cooperation,
adding that the two sides agree that stability in Kosovo is essential to
security in the Balkans, according to the "Turkish Daily News" on 13
February. The two presidents also discussed the planned transport corridor
from the Adriatic coast to the Bulgarian port of Varna. LF

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON 'TRANSITION AND MORALITY.' Addressing an
international colloquium in Bucharest on "Morality and government in the
transition period," Emil Constantinescu on 12 February said Western
investors have no right to talk about Romanian corruption as long as they
do not dare to officially complain about it. He claimed that those
investors in fact engage in "tacit collaboration" with those who are
corrupt. Constantinescu said that totalitarian structures have been
replaced by "democratic hybrids" rather than genuine democratic structures
and that the "pillars" of the former system work hand in hand with
organized crime to take over the new "fragile structures." He added that
attempts to set up "facades of democracy" may lead to either anarchy or a
dictatorship that exploits and exacerbates the "national communist" version
of nationalism. MS

ROMANIAN PARAMEDICALS ON STRIKE.  Some 150,000 members of the Sanitas
federation of nurses and other medical staff went on strike on 12 February
following the failure of talks with Premier Victor Ciorbea the previous
day. Sanitas is demanding a 100 percent increase in wages, while the
government says it cannot approve more than 25 percent. MS

LUCINSCHI-SMIRNOV MEETING CANCELED. A meeting between Moldovan President
Petru Lucinschi and separatist leader Igor Smirnov that was scheduled to
take place on 12 February has been canceled, ITAR-TASS reported. The two
leaders were to have discussed economic cooperation. Moldovan presidential
adviser Anatol Taranu said the "Transdniester authorities and far-right
[pro-Romanian] nationalist forces in Moldova are compromising the proposals
for a settlement [made by] the Russian Federation [and] trying to force
Moldova out of the CIS." Relations between the sides have deteriorated
since Chisinau imposed a tax on Transdniester goods as of 1 February and
the Transdniester authorities retaliated by levying a similar tax on
Moldovan goods. MS

U.S. COMPANY SUES MOLDOVA OVER SALE OF MIGS. Virtual Defense Development
International Inc. (VDI) is suing the Moldovan government for not paying a
$9 million commission in connection with the sale of 21 MiG-29 planes to
the U.S. last October, BASA-press reported on 12 February, citing CNN. VDI
says the sale was facilitated after a contract was signed between the
Moldovan government and itself. The government in Chisinau refused to
comment. MS

BULGARIA, RUSSIA REMAIN DEADLOCKED OVER GAS SUPPLIES. Gazprom chief Rem
Vyakhirev says Bulgaria has "too many claims" in the dispute with Moscow
over Russian gas deliveries and the transit of gas through Bulgarian
pipelines to third countries. Vyakhirev told journalists it was "difficult"
to envisage how and when the problems between the two sides will be solved,
ITAR-TASS reported. He added that Bulgaria "is the only European state that
no one can understand." MS


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