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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 65 Part II, 3 April 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 65 Part II, 3 April 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIAN MEDIA EMPIRES II Businessmen, government leaders, politicians, and financial companies continue to reshape Russia's media landscape. This update of a September report identifies the players and their media holdings via charts, tables and articles. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rumedia2/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS FESTIVITIES MARKING UNION DAY * ALBRIGHT WARNS OF BALKAN 'ROAD BACK TO HELL' * MILOSEVIC WANTS REFERENDUM ON KOSOVO xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS FESTIVITIES MARKING UNION DAY... The Belarusian Popular Front, the main opposition force in Belarus, staged an unauthorized demonstration on 2 April to protest official festivities marking the first anniversary of the union between Belarus and Russia, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. While the authorities celebrated the national holiday with concerts and street fairs, several hundred oppositionists shouted slogans such as "Belarus Lives!" and burned the Russian flag. "It is an artificial holiday, dedicated to an artificial union. We recognize neither this union, which does not meet our national interests, nor this holiday," Vyacheslaw Siwchyk, a Belarusian Popular Front activist, was quoted as saying. JM ...WHILE POLICE BEAT, ARREST PROTESTERS. As the opposition demonstrators started to disperse, unidentified plainclothes policemen emerged from nearby automobiles and attacked many of the demonstrators, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. Witnesses say the police arrested some 20 protesters from the Belarusian Popular Front, including its acting chairman Lyavon Barshchewski and deputy chairman Yury Khadyka. Some 200 members of the front's youth branch tried to march toward the president's residence, but they were beaten and dispersed by about 150 riot policemen armed with batons and shields. JM POLAND GRANTS ASYLUM TO BELARUSIAN BUSINESSMAN. Belarusian businessman Alyaksandr Pupeyka told an RFE/RL correspondent in Warsaw on 2 April that he has been granted political asylum in Poland. Earlier this year, Pupeyka fled Belarus for Poland after the Belarusian authorities accused him of grand larceny. Pupeyka, who supported the Belarusian opposition, claims the charges are politically motivated. Pupeyka told the press last month that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has deposits in foreign banks, causing a stir in Minsk. JM POLAND SUPPORTS LITHUANIA'S ASPIRATIONS TO EU, NATO. "Poland is interested in supporting Lithuania in its strategic decisions on entering EU and NATO," Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski told journalists after meeting with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus in Warsaw, Reuters reported on 2 April. Adamkus, who was elected to the presidency in January, was making his first trip abroad in his new capacity. JM POLAND, SLOVAKIA TO STRENGTHEN MILITARY COOPERATION. Polish Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz says Warsaw and Bratislava have agreed to increase military and technical cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. Onyszkiewicz spoke after meeting with his Slovak counterpart, Jan Sitek, in Warsaw on 2 April. They also agreed to modernize military equipment to meet NATO standards. Slovakia offered to supply Poland with armaments, while Poland said it is ready to discuss deliveries of communications technology, helicopters, and aircraft for training. "We consider Slovakia a state seeking to join the North Atlantic Alliance," Onyszkiewicz assured Sitek. JM. TALLINN CITY LEADERS SURVIVE NO CONFIDENCE VOTE. Tallinn City Council Chairman Edgar Savisaar and three deputy mayors, all members of the Center Party, have survived a no confidence vote, ETA and BNS reported on 2 April. Mayor Ivi Eenmaa, a leading member of the Coalition Party and one of the initiators of the vote, said she has no intention to resign. She also said she has no problem cooperating with the centrists but was dissatisfied with the work of the three deputy mayors. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Mart Siimann had said on national television that "power games" in the Tallinn council were forcing him to start talks with political parties aimed at securing the country's stability (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 March 1998). Siimann's Coalition Party is currently negotiating with the Reform Party on expanding the ruling coalition. JC U.S. OFFERS HELP FROM FBI IN LATVIA SYNAGOGUE BOMBING. The U.S. has offered the services of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to help Latvian authorities find those responsible for the 2 April bombing of the Riga synagogue. The Latvian Prosecutor General's Office is to oversee a nine-member working group that will investigate the bombing. U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke, on an unofficial visit to Latvia on 2 April, visited the synagogue and described the attack as cowardly. Latvia's president, prime minister, and foreign minister have all condemned the bombing, while the Simon Wiesenthal Center has said it suspects the blast is "connected" with the recent anniversary parade by veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS Legion. Meanwhile, the police chief and state secretary of the Interior Ministry have been suspended for failing to ensure the security of the synagogue after a swastika was painted on its facade last year. JC CZECH PRESIDENT SIGNS DECREE ON EARLY ELECTIONS. Vaclav Havel signed a decree on 2 April calling for early elections to the lower house of the parliament to be held on 19 -20 June, Reuters reported. Havel said he believes early elections will lead to a "clarification of the composition of political powers in our country." Last week, Havel signed a constitutional amendment reducing the mandates of current deputies to two years. The opposition Social Democrats continue to head opinion polls, although their lead has fallen recently due to allegations of influence-peddling by party leader Milos Zeman. PB PETITION DRIVE GATHERS MOMENTUM IN SLOVAKIA. More than 100,000 people have so far signed a petition calling for the direct election of the president, RFE/RL's Slovak Service reported on 2 April. Organizers of the petition drive, which was launched last week and is sponsored by the opposition blocs Slovak Democratic Coalition and Hungarian Coalition, are seeking to collect 500,000 signatures. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar said on 2 April that neither he nor parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic will stand as presidential candidates because they want to concentrate on campaigning for the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. PB HUNGARIAN CABINET WILL NOT DISPUTE RULING ON DAM REFERENDUM. Government spokesman Elemer Kiss told journalists on 3 April that the cabinet will not appeal to the Constitutional Court over the 1 April ruling by the National Election Committee that a referendum will be held on building the Gabcikovo- Nagymaros dam if 200,000 signatures are collected. Kiss said, however, that the cabinet disagrees with the timing of such a vote, saying it should have been held in 1993, before Hungary and Slovakia agreed to settle the conflict at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The Together for Hungary Union launched the initiative for a referendum on the controversial dam. MZS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE ALBRIGHT WARNS OF BALKAN 'ROAD BACK TO HELL.' U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Washington on 2 April that "today, Kosovo is caught up in a vicious cycle. First, there is Serb repression. Then, [Albanian] extremists wage hit-and-run attacks against Serb authorities. Then, Serb special police strike back with summary executions, house demolitions and helicopter gunship attacks. For the Balkans, this escalating violence is the road back to Hell. Unless stopped, tensions will flow out of control. The result could be a full-fledged civil war, putting at risk the peace in Bosnia and spreading conflict like an infectious disease to neighboring states." PM MILOSEVIC WANTS REFERENDUM ON KOSOVO. Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic sent a letter to Serbian leaders on 2 April asking them to call a referendum on the question: "Do you accept the participation of foreign representatives in the resolution of the problems in Kosovo?" The letter made it clear that Milosevic wants a demonstration of popular support for his policies in Kosovo, including his refusal to allow foreign involvement in what he regards as an internal affair of Serbia. He charged that "those who want to dictate to the entire world how it should live and even think have an extremely negative and aggressive stand toward our determined position to resolve our problems as a sovereign state." Milosevic added that over the past few days, "we have heard how [the unnamed foreigners]...even love us and are sorry that the people will be subject to pressures." PM PARLIAMENT TO DISCUSS REFERENDUM... The Serbian parliament will meet on 6 April to discuss Milosevic's proposal, Serbian news agencies reported on 2 April. If the legislature agrees with Milosevic, as seems most likely, the referendum could be held as early as May or as late as August, Tanjug added. Serbian President Milan Milutinovic praised Milosevic's proposal, as did Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj. But in Pristina, Fehmi Agani and other leading Kosovar spokesmen dismissed the idea as "a cynical propaganda exercise" and an effort to buy time. The Kosovar leaders added that they will call for a boycott of the referendum. PM ...WHILE SOLANA BLASTS PROPOSAL. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said in Sofia on 3 April: "my reaction to [Milosevic's referendum] proposal is very negative. This is a maneuver to waste time and increase a risk of conflict. We think this is just another mistake by President Milosevic." PM WHAT IS GOING ON IN DRENICA? Serbian paramilitary police recently brought heavy guns into the area near Kosovar villages in the Drenica region, where the Serbs began the current crackdown on 28 February, the satellite television station "Euro News" reported on 3 April. The broadcast quoted local Kosovars as saying that no international aid has reached Drenica this month. The Kosovars added that Serbian police roadblocks prevent food from reaching the region and that local people have no alternative but to smuggle food through Serbian lines at night. PM NANO CALLS FOR ECONOMIC EMBARGO ON BELGRADE. Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano said in Paris on 3 April that "the current pressure is not enough to bend Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. A financial embargo, including a freeze of Serb assets abroad, should be added." Nano added that Kosovo should be made an autonomous republic within Yugoslavia. He rejected the idea of a greater Albania and called for a dialogue mediated by the U.S., the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the EU. Nano noted that OSCE monitors are stationed on Albania's frontier with Yugoslavia and that arms "smuggling is completely blocked, as far as it can ever be in a mountainous area." PM NATO MAKES SHOW OF FORCE IN PALE. More than 400 French and Italian troops backed by 15 tanks, 80 other military vehicles, and several helicopters occupied the Bosnian Serb hard-liners' stronghold of Pale on 2 April. SFOR spokesmen said that the operation was a routine inspection to monitor illegal weapons and that nothing was seized. Local and foreign observers suggested that the real aim of the mission was to intimidate ultranationalist leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, who lives in Pale. Karadzic's security forces are no longer as formidable as they were before the Bosnian Serb government moved from Pale to Banja Luka, "Nasa Borba" reported on 3 April. PM "DE-USTASHIZATION" IN CROATIA? The opposition political party Istrian Democratic League will soon introduce a bill aimed at banning the display of portraits, emblems and symbols associated with the fascist Ustasha movement and its wartime Axis-puppet state. The bill would also forbid political parties and "other activities" portraying that state in a positive light, "Slobodna Dalmacija" wrote on 3 April. The draft law calls for establishing a 15-member "De- Ustashization Commission" in the parliament. The Split daily added that the bill is likely to evoke negative comments from most leading politicians because they fear that a public discussion of the Ustasha issue could lead to unnecessary negative publicity for Croatia. Anto Djapic, the leader of the small pro-Ustasha Croatian Party of [Historical] Rights, told "Vjesnik" of 3 April that the real purpose of the bill is to ban his party. PM ALBANIAN OPPOSITION HOLDS MEMORIAL RALLY. Several thousand opposition supporters took part in a rally in Shkoder on 2 April to mark the seventh anniversary of the killing of four anti-communist protesters by police in that city, "Rilindja Demokratike" reported. The four were protesting the election victory of the communist Party of Labor of Albania in the country's first multiparty elections since World War II. The 1991 protests sparked an uprising that forced the government to resign and call new elections the following year. FS FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER FLEES ALBANIA. Belul Celo, who was interior minister from March to July 1997 interim government, left Albania after being summoned to the Military Prosecutor's Office. Celo had been asked to testify about the role of the elite Presidential Guard during the unrest in March 1997, "Republika" reported on 3 April. Celo may be held responsible for atrocities that the Presidential Guard committed during the unrest. The Socialist Party daily "Zeri i Popullit," however, claimed on 2 April that Celo is hiding, possibly in Greece, from former Guard members who threatened him after he gave testimony on the unrest to the prosecutor's office. FS VASILE BEGINS TALKS ON FORMING GOVERNMENT. Romanian Prime Minister-designate Radu Vasile began talks with coalition parties on forming a new government on 2 April. Under the constitution, Vasile has 10 days in which to submit a government to the parliament for approval. Vasile said after being confirmed as premier-designate that he will govern with "speed and authority." He also pledged that his government will differ from the cabinet of Victor Ciorbea, whom Vasile criticized in an interview with "Libertatea" for his "incompetence and laxness." Opposition leader and former President Ion Iliescu said the "causes of the political and economic crisis will persist" as long as the current coalition is in power, regardless of who is prime minister. PB CONSTANTINESCU SAYS NATO EXPANSION COSTS WORTHWHILE. Romanian President Emil Constantinescu told visiting NATO Secretary-General Solana that the price of expanding the alliance into Eastern Europe is worth paying, AFP reported on 2 April. Constantinescu said the costs for Western countries are often overestimated, and that Bucharest would pay much more on defense if it were not in NATO. Solana said that the political crisis Romania is currently suffering is common in Europe and should not be dramatized. PB BULGARIA WANTS TO BE LESS DEPENDENT ON RUSSIAN GAS. Bulgarian Deputy Premier Yevgeni Bakardjiev has said Sofia will sign a deal with Royal Dutch Shell International that will help break the Russian monopoly on gas supplies to Bulgaria, AFP reported on 2 April. Bakardjiev, who was returning from meetings with Shell in Holland, said that Sofia will own a section of a pipeline that is to run from Turkmenistan to Germany and transits Bulgaria. The pipeline will take four years to build. Bulgaria imported some 6.5 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia last year and has encountered difficulties making payments to Moscow on time. PB BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER PLEDGES ADJUSTMENTS FOR NATO. Nadezhda Mihailova said on 2 April that Bulgaria will do everything NATO asks in order to prepare for membership in the alliance. Mihailova said she assured visiting NATO Secretary-General Solana that the government, parliament, and president will fully cooperate so that the country is ready for the next round of NATO expansion. Solana, who is on a two-day visit to Sofia, said that NATO's "door is open" for all states in a second round of enlargement. PB REGIONAL AFFAIRS CIS SUMMIT MAY BE POSTPONED. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev hinted on 2 April that the CIS summit tentatively scheduled for 29 April may be postponed until the end of next month, Interfax reported. Speaking in Akmola, Nazarbaev said he has proposed that the presidents of the four member states of the CIS Customs Union (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, and Russia) meet in Moscow on 20 April to discuss a draft document on creating a common economic space. He also advocated adopting his program for greater integration within the CIS. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev has said he will be unable to attend the April CIS summit because of a scheduled trip to China. LF WAY PAVED FOR TAJIKISTAN'S ENTRY TO CIS CUSTOMS UNION. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov met with Nigmatjon Isingarin, the chairman of the CIS Customs Union, in Dushanbe on 2 April to discuss Tajikistan's entry to the union, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. An official decision on Tajik entry could be made at the next meeting of the presidents of the member states, Isingarin noted. But he added that it could take some 18 months before Tajikistan is finally admitted to the union. BP xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word "subscribe" as the subject or body of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word "unsubscribe" as the subject or body of the message. 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