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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 65 Part II, 3 April 1998


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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

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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

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Headlines, Part II

* BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS FESTIVITIES MARKING UNION
DAY

* ALBRIGHT WARNS OF BALKAN 'ROAD BACK TO HELL'

* MILOSEVIC WANTS REFERENDUM ON KOSOVO

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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

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