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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 33 , Part II, 18 February 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 33 , Part II, 18 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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SPECIAL REPORT: A quarter of Russia's labor force receives its wages late,
in kind or not at all. This three-article series on the RFE/RL Web site
examines why. Russia's Workers: Why They Go Without Wages
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rulabor/index.html

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Headlines, Part II

* EBRD UNCERTAIN ABOUT LOAN FOR UKRAINIAN REACTORS

* CROATIAN UNIONS DEFY GOVERNMENT

* TEN THOUSAND AT ETHNIC ALBANIAN'S FUNERAL IN KOSOVO

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

EBRD UNCERTAIN ABOUT LOAN FOR UKRAINIAN REACTORS. Charles Frank, the acting
president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, said in
Kyiv on 18 February that the EBRD is still unsure about lending money to
Kyiv for the construction of nuclear reactors, ITAR-TASS reported. The new
reactors would be built at the Rivno and Khmelnytsky nuclear power plants
and would pave the way for the permanent shutdown of Chornobyl. Frank said
that even if the $1.2 billion loan were granted, it would not be possible
to construct the new reactors by 2000, the year by which the Ukrainian
government has pledged to close down Chornobyl. Frank said the EBRD wants
to ensure that the decision to build the two new reactors is
cost-effective, that a safe design is used, and that the loan would be
repaid. PB

U.S. NEWSPAPER SAYS BELARUS, IRAN TO SIGN WEAPONS DEAL. Belarus is
preparing a weapons deal whereby it would send tank engines and other spare
parts to Iran, the "Washington Times" reported on 17 February. Citing CIA
sources, the newspaper said Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
would sign the agreement during a trip to Iran scheduled for early next
month. The spare parts would allow Iran to maintain its Soviet-built tanks.
An Iranian-Belarusian economic commission met in Tehran earlier this month
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 February 1998). PB

COMMITTEE CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF LATVENERGO PRIVATIZATION. The
parliamentary committee investigating the loss of 3  million lats (some $6
million) at the state energy utility Latvenergo is to submit a draft
resolution calling for the privatization of the company to be suspended,
BNS reported on 17 February. The committee also concluded that "political
pressure" on the board of the Latvian Privatization Agency facilitated the
illegal deal between Banka Baltija and an off-shore Liechtenstein company
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 1998). "The decision was made hastily
and in violation of record-keeping violations at the agency," Andrejs
Pantelejevs, the head of the committee, told reporters. At the time of the
deal, the board was subordinated to former Prime Minister Andris Skele. JC

ADAMKUS WANTS CABINET POSTS SLASHED. Lithuanian President-elect Valdas
Adamkus has confirmed that he would like to see significant reductions in
the size of the cabinet, BNS reported on 17 February. Following a meeting
with Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius, Adamkus proposed abolishing three
ministries initially and another two at a later date. Adamkus is to be
sworn in next week, and the parliament is due to hold a vote of confidence
in the cabinet on 3 March. Last month, the government requested that
Constitutional Court rule on the transfer of powers following the
inauguration of a new president (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 1998). JC

POLISH PRESIDENT RE-NOMINATES CENTRAL BANK HEAD. Aleksander Kwasniewski has
nominated Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz to continue her duties as central bank
chief, an RFE/RL correspondent in Warsaw reported on 17 February. Known as
the "Iron Lady of Polish finance," Gronkiewicz-Waltz was praised by
Kwasniewski as having "special knowledge and talents." The parliament is
expected to vote later this week whether to grant Gronkiewicz-Waltz  a
second six-year term in office. Gronkiewicz-Waltz was recently named the
best national bank chief in Central Europe. PB

HAVEL ASKS DEPUTY PREMIER TO POSTPONE RESIGNATION. President Vaclav Havel
on 17 February asked Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister Jiri
Skalicky not to resign until the minister has answered questions about
controversial donations to his party, CTK reported. Skalicky asked  to be
allowed to consider Havel's request for one week. He spoke with journalists
after visiting Havel in the hospital, where the president is to undergo
surgery to an ulcer in his throat, Reuters reported.  Earlier on 17
February, Prime Minister Josef Tosovsky had  informed Havel of Skalicky's
resignation, saying it is a "responsible political gesture." MS

CZECH SKINHEADS CAUSE ROMANI WOMAN TO DROWN. A 26-year-old Romani woman was
found dead after three skinheads pushed her into the Labe River in
Vrchlabi, eastern Bohemia, on 15 February, CTK reported. A local police
spokesman said the skinheads have been detained. MS

SLOVAKIA, HUNGARY MAKE NO PROGRESS ON GABCIKOVO-NAGYMAROS. Julius Binder,
deputy head of the Slovak delegation seeking to resolve the issue of the
dam project on the River Danube, said on 17 February that his country's
position on the project remains firm and is in accordance with  the
International Court of Justice ruling. Talking after another round of the
bilateral discussions in Bratislava, Binder said Slovakia has no reason to
make any concessions that would disadvantage the operation of the Cunovo
dam, on the Slovak bank of the Danube. Hungarian government commissioner
Janos Nemcsok admitted that the two sides remain far apart over the issue.
He added that no agreement was reached on the water level at the Hungarian
Dunakiliti  reservoir, Hungarian media reported. MSZ

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES ROLE IN POSSIBLE ATTACK ON IRAQ. The
parliament on 17 February approved the government's proposal that Hungary
send a 50-member medical contingent to participate in a possible
international operation against Iraq, Hungarian media reported. The
resolution also allows countries taking part in such an operation to use
Hungarian airspace and military airports. Hungary's participation would
cost some 550 million forints ($2.6 million). Owing to the opposition of
the Young Democrats and Independent Smallholders, the proposal to send a
200-member technical unit was dropped from the resolution. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CROATIAN UNIONS DEFY GOVERNMENT. Boris Kunst, the president of the United
Labor Unions of Croatia, has said  his group will hold a rally in Zagreb on
20 February to protest deteriorating social conditions. Several other
unions and 11 political parties have endorsed the demonstration, which
organizers expect will draw at least 50,000 participants, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from the Croatian capital on 17 February . The
government the previous day had banned the rally for what the authorities
called security reasons. In his latest remarks, Kunst said that security is
not a valid reason to ban a demonstration in peace time. Meanwhile, a
government spokesman charged that some unions have rejected a call by Prime
Minister Zlatko Matesa for talks and that this refusal "reveals the real
intentions" of the unions. PM

VUKOVAR EX-COMMANDER WINS SETTLEMENT. The Croatian Defense Ministry on 16
February awarded $60,000 in damages to former Lieutenant-Colonel Mile
Dedakovic, better known by his nom-de-guerre of Jastreb. The out-of-court
settlement ends three years of litigation. After the fall of Vukovar in
November 1991, the authorities accused Jastreb of deserting his post,
collaborating with the Yugoslav army, and embezzlement. He was subsequently
so badly beaten in a military prison that he is now an invalid. The
authorities later dropped all charges against him. Jastreb, for his part,
has repeatedly charged President Franjo Tudjman with refusing to send
reinforcements to Vukovar and deliberately abandoning the town to the Serbs
after a three-month siege. Many other former Croatian military personnel
and civilians sympathize with Jastreb's views. PM

TEN THOUSAND AT ETHNIC ALBANIAN'S FUNERAL IN KOSOVO. Some 10,000 people
attended the burial on 17 February near Glogovac of an ethnic Albanian
electrician whom Albanian spokesmen say was killed by police two days
earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 February 1998). Meanwhile in Klina,
police officials told BETA that the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army
attacked a police station on the Klina-Srbica road the previous night.
Spokesmen for an ethnic Albanian human rights group confirmed there had
been gunfire in the area and that police reinforcements arrived soon
afterward. PM

MEIDANI CALLS FOR UN ROLE IN KOSOVO. Albanian President Rexhep Meidani said
in Tirana on 17 February that the situation in Kosovo has become "very
dangerous" and that it is imperative to prevent an outbreak of violence. He
called on unspecified "European institutions" to increase diplomatic
activity in the area and for the UN to set up a mission in Pristina, BETA
reported. PM

SFOR ISSUES NEW ORDERS TO BOSNIAN ARMIES. A spokesman for SFOR said in
Sarajevo on 17 February that the federal and Bosnian Serb armies will have
to reduce their respective arms depots by one-quarter in the near future to
enable peacekeepers to monitor the weapons more effectively. He also
pointed out that the two armies' military vehicles must display the new
joint license plates by 1 May, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the
Bosnian capital. Meanwhile, Hanns Schumacher, a deputy to the international
community's Carlos Westendorp, criticized federal officials for charging
citizens up to more than 10 times the official price for the new license
plates. PM

WARNING STRIKE IN BOSNIA. Some 65,000 workers in the metallurgy industry
staged a one-hour warning strike in several towns in the mainly Croatian
and Muslim federation on 17 February. The workers demand that the federal
government honor an agreement it reached with the unions at the end of last
year. PM

BOSNIAN CARDINAL BACKS ECUMENISM. Cardinal Vinko Puljic told a meeting of
the Bosnian Bishops' conference in Mostar on 17 February that the Roman
Catholic Church should "strengthen the spirit of ecumenism" in its
relations with both the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Islamic Community.
Puljic, who is the first cardinal in Bosnian history, also called for a
concordat between Bosnia and the Vatican to regulate questions involving
the return of  Church property confiscated by the communists, building new
religious buildings, and carrying out pastoral work. He also urged that all
refugees be able to return to their former homes and enjoy full political,
religious, and cultural freedom. Many Bosnian Croatian refugees come from
centuries-old communities in central Bosnia now under Muslim or Serbian
control. PM

MACEDONIA RECEIVES WORLD BANK LOAN. The World Bank announced in Washington
on 17 February that it will loan Macedonia $35 million to modernize six
power plants. Those facilities produce 91 percent of the country's
electricity. PM

NEW ELECTION LAW FOR MONTENEGRO. Representatives of all political parties
have expressed satisfaction with the election law that the parliament
passed on 17 February, BETA reported. The legislature will have 78 members
who are elected by proportional representation from among all parties
receiving more than 3 percent of all ballots cast. The entire country will
be treated as one election district. Five seats are reserved for members of
the ethnic Albanian minority. PM

MONTENEGRIN BORDER GUARDS SHOOT ALBANIANS. Montenegrin border guards shot
and killed a 22-year-old Albanian on 17 February. The victim was on his way
to work in the Montenegrin town of Tuzi when the guards fired at him from a
patrol boat,  "Koha Jone" reported. Four days earlier, two Albanians were
injured when Montenegrin border police opened fire at them in the same
area. FS

ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS DETAINED PENDING TRIAL. A Tirana court on 17 February
sent 11 supporters of Democratic Party legislator Azem Hajdari to
pre-trial detention of between six to 15 days, "Rilindja Demokratike"
reported. Three others remain under house arrest. All 14 people were
allegedly involved in a recent armed incident with police at a road block
in Milot (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 16 February 1998). They are charged with
illegal possession of arms and interfering with the work of  the police. A
police spokesman said that machine guns and other weapons have been found
in cars belong to Hajdari's supporters and near the scene of the incident,
"Koha Jone" reported. Meanwhile, Hajdari, who claims the police wanted to
kill him, has offered to relinquish his parliamentary immunity to
facilitate an investigation into his role in the incident. FS

BOMB ATTACK IN SHKODER. A bomb went off outside the Socialist Party
headquarters in the northern city of Shkoder on 17 February, "Shekulli"
reported. The bomb caused heavy damage, but nobody was injured. The
previous day, two bombs destroyed a Socialist Party branch in the south
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 February 1998). And in Tirana on 17 February,
police found a bomb inside the parliament building after receiving an
anonymous telephone call. FS

ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON POSSIBLE MILITARY ACTION AGAINST IRAQ. In an
interview with RFE/RL on 17 February, Constantin Dudu Ionescu said Romania
has "at no point" considered sending combat troops to take part in possible
military operations against Iraq. Ionescu said the Romanian army is "among
the best prepared" for integration into NATO forces but "at this stage" is
"not yet ready" for participation in operations such as those conducted in
the Gulf in 1991. The same day, U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin
said the decision of Victor Ciorbea's cabinet demonstrated its "courage and
leadership" MS

ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER CONSIDERS RESIGNATION. Daniel Daianu told a
meeting of the National Liberal Party caucus on 17 February that he is
considering resigning as finance minister. Daianu said the country's
ongoing political crisis makes it impossible to take the necessary
decisions to promote economic reforms, adding that the 1998 budget  has to
be "changed every day" to meet new demands. He warned against the danger of
the country's "Bulgarization" and said Romania is probably heading toward
early elections. He also said he would not agree to be an "accomplice" in
"complicating even further the country's economic situation and
negotiations with the IMF," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

COMPROMISE OVER PARAMEDICS' DEMANDS IN OFFING. The leader of the Sanitas
trade union federation said on 17 February that members of his union are
willing to "compromise" over its demands by agreeing to a wage hike of 75
percent, instead of 100 percent. Negotiations with the government resumed
on 17 February, and several proposals are being considered to find budget
funds to finance the strikers' demands. The paramedics have been on a
general strike since 12 February. Also under consideration is a special
levy imposed on hospitalized smokers and alcohol consumers as a means to
increase funds for the rapidly deteriorating health system, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. MS

MOLDOVAN, TRANSDNIESTER LEADERS FAIL TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES. President
Petru Lucinschi and Transdniester separatist leader Igor Smirnov, meeting
in Tiraspol on 17 February, failed to bridge their main political
difference but reached agreement on how to resolve outstanding economic
questions, Infotag reported.  Lucinschi said Moldova cannot meet Tiraspol's
demand that it be treated as an independent state, while Smirnov pointed to
the Transdniester constitution, which, he noted, defines the region as
such. Smirnov added that Tiraspol is "ready to take into consideration
international practice" but only if the two sides conduct negotiations as
"fully equal partners." He said the term "unified state," included in the 8
May memorandum, is interpreted in Tiraspol as meaning "two states that have
decided to build one unified country." MS

GAGAUZ-YERI ASSEMBLY APPROVES REFERENDUM. The Popular Assembly of the
Gagauz-Yeri autonomous region has approved holding a referendum on a "basic
law" for the region, the RFE/RL Chisinau bureau reported on 17 February.
The plebiscite will take place at the same time as the Moldovan
parliamentary elections on 22 March. Both Moldovan parliamentary chairman
Dumitru Motpan and regional leader (Bashkir) Georgi Tabunshchik had asked
the assembly to postpone the decision on the referendum, but the deputies
argued that the costs of conducting a separate plebiscite would be much
higher. MS


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