|A disagreement may be the shortest cut between two minds. - Kahlil Gibran|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 71 Part II, 14 April 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 71 Part II, 14 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 * RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS 'NO SOFTENING' ON LATVIA * UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT THREATENS TO FIRE MANAGERS * DJUKANOVIC URGES WEST TO 'BAR WAY' TO MILOSEVIC xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx REGIONAL AFFAIRS RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS 'NO SOFTENING' ON LATVIA. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev told Interfax on 10 April that Moscow's decision not to introduce a resolution condemning Latvia at the UN Human Rights Review Conference this year does not represent a "softening" of Moscow's position. Rather, Avdeev suggested, it is intended to give Riga time to live up to its promises to modify Latvian citizenship legislation. If Latvia fails to do that, Avdeev added, Moscow would be prepared to consider introducing such a resolution next spring. PG WORKING GROUP ON LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP LAW REACHES AGREEMENT. A working group composed of representatives of the ruling factions has reached agreement on proposals for amending the citizenship law, BNS reported on 13 April. The group's members supported a proposal by Latvia's way to grant citizenship to children under 16 if those youths submit such a request and demonstrate adequate knowledge of the Latvian language. They also agreed that all people born in Latvia could be naturalized by 2001. The Cooperation Council of the ruling factions is scheduled to debate the draft on 14 April. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Guntars Krasts, speaking to BNS and state radio, has again stressed he wants his government to stay on until the fall elections even if it lacks a parliamentary majority. JC CLINTON SENDS LETTER TO LATVIAN PRESIDENT. U.S. President Bill Clinton has sent a letter to Guntis Ulmanis urging that Riga and Moscow engage in a dialogue to resolve a dispute over the rights of ethnic Russians living in Latvia, Reuters and BNS reported on 13 April, citing a statement issued by Ulmanis's office. Clinton stressed that a dialogue with Russia is necessary and noted that U.S. officials have spoken with the Russian government "to see what is needed to renew a constructive dialogue between Russia and Latvia. JC MOSCOW RABBI SLAMS 'FASCISM' IN LATVIA. Russian Chief Rabbi Adolf Shaevich released a statement on 13 April blaming Latvia for all the current problems in relations with Russia and saying that "fascism will always raise its head where and when the persecution of national minorities begins." Two days earlier, some 300 Moscow residents gathered outside the Latvian embassy there to protest Latvia's failure to give full citizenship to ethnic Russians on its territory. PG RUSSIAN REGIONS DIVERGE ON LATVIA. Primorskii Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko has offered his region's ports as a substitute for Latvian ones, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 11 April. (As other Russian officials have conceded, the flow of oil through Latvian ports cannot be reduced much further without harming the Russian economy.) Other regional leaders--in Kemerovo, Saratov, Yaroslavl, and Altai Krai-- have called for an end to the import and sale of Latvian goods on their territory. Altai Governor Aleksandr Surikov urged all contracts with Latvian enterprises to be revised, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 April. At the request of Moscow's city administration, stores in the Russian capital have stopped selling Latvian goods. But Leningrad Oblast Governor Vadim Gustov said he is against sanctions because they would be ineffective. He called for talks, Interfax and BNS reported on 11 April. PG EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT THREATENS TO FIRE MANAGERS. Leonid Kuchma has warned enterprise managers that the "democracy game is over" for them, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 April. Speaking at a meeting with executives and directors of major industrial enterprises in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Kuchma said that if managers do not resolve the crises at their enterprises by year's end, "they will have to look for a new job." The president also lashed out at former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, now the chairman of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Council of Deputies and leader of the Hromada party, for allegedly exacerbating tensions in the region and the country as a whole. In the 29 March elections, Lazarenko's party garnered some 700,000 votes in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, approximately two-thirds of the ballots cast for the party nationwide. JM UKRAINE CRACKS DOWN ON SEXUAL SLAVERY. Kuchma on 13 April signed a law establishing criminal responsibility for trade in human beings and for forcing women into prostitution, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported. The bill provides for prison terms of up to 15 years for those guilty of sexually exploiting women. According to Nina Karpachova, a parliamentary deputy who initiated the legislation, many Ukrainian women seeking jobs abroad "are raped, beaten, and drugged" while being coerced into becoming prostitutes. Ukrainian diplomatic sources report that some 3,000 Ukrainian women are involved in prostitution in Greece and some 6,000 in Turkey. JM LEFTISTS PICKET U.S. EMBASSY IN MINSK. Some 100 mostly elderly Communists picketed the U.S. embassy in Minsk on 10 April to protest what they called "U.S. meddling in the affairs of sovereign Belarus," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The picket was sponsored by the Communist Party and the Movement for Democracy, Social Progress, and Justice, among others. Participants carried placards reading "Secure human rights in your own country" and "Yankees -- Hands Off Belarus and her president." They urged U.S. ambassador Daniel Speckhardt to leave the country and advised Bill Clinton to pay more attention to what they called his "sexual problems." The picket was authorized by the Minsk city authorities. JM MINSK REPORTS ECONOMIC GROWTH. According to the Belarusian Ministry of Statistics and Analysis, gross domestic product grew by 13 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period in 1997, Belapan reported on 13 April. Industrial output in the same period increased by 14.6 percent, the ministry said. JM PEOPLE'S PARTY READY TO COOPERATE WITH ESTONIAN COALITION. The People's Party, led by Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves, announced on 13 April that it is prepared to accept the ruling coalition's cooperation offer, ETA reported. A leading official of the party said that the agreement with the ruling coalition will be formal and aimed at guaranteeing that Ilves continues as foreign minister. The Progressive Party, however, is dissatisfied with the terms of the current agreement. Chairwoman Andra Veidemann said the party rejects being given obligations but no rights. But she stressed that the party is prepared to discuss a new agreement or other forms of cooperation. JC POLISH PRIEST DEFENDS CROSS AT AUSCHWITZ. Henryk Jankowski, a prominent Polish Catholic priest and former Solidarity chaplain, decorated an altar for Easter with signs defending the controversial cross near the site of the former Auschwitz concentration camp, according to Polish Television. The priest placed placards reading "Let's respect national symbols," "Solidarity," and "Auschwitz" at the altar of his church in Gdansk. He also displayed national emblems marred with fake blood to represent what he maintains is the lack of respect for Polish symbols. "National symbols are being violated, trampled upon," he was quoted by "Gazeta Wyborcza" on 11 April as saying. Last November, Jankowski was barred for one year from giving sermons following anti-Semitic remarks. JM POLISH BORDER RESTRICTIONS REDUCE VISITORS FROM BELARUS, RUSSIA. As a result of border regulations introduced by the Polish authorities at the beginning of this year, the number of visitors from Belarus and Russia in the first quarter fell by 34 percent, dpa reported on 14 April, citing Polish newspapers. Under those regulations, Belarusian and Russian visitors have to present an officially confirmed invitation or a prepaid hotel bill. Private trade along the border has been hit hard by the regulations, prompting Polish traders to block roads and checkpoints. JM CANADA GRANTS ASYLUM TO CZECH ROMA. A Romany family has been permitted to remain in Canada as refugees because of persecution in the Czech Republic. A refugee board in Toronto ruled that Gejza Horvath, his wife, and 18 other dependents face a serious threat of persecution on racial grounds. The Horvaths' lawyer said the decision will lead to other Roma being allowed to remain in Canada. Some 1,000 Czech Roma flew to Canada between August and October after a television program showed a well-off Roma family that had successfully emigrated to Canada. PB IMF PRAISES HUNGARIAN ECONOMY. An IMF report says that Hungary can expect economic growth of 4.8 percent this year, "Magyar Hirlap" reported on 14 April. The document praises the government's economic austerity measures and efforts to trim the budget deficit and reform the pension system. It adds that continuation of present fiscal policies will mean continued foreign investment. In other news, Industry and Trade Minister Gyorgy Gilyan said Moscow plans to reduce its debt to Budapest by $250 million this year. Russia owes Hungary some $435 million and has until 2001 to pay off that debt. PB SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE DJUKANOVIC URGES WEST TO 'BAR WAY' TO MILOSEVIC. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic told AFP on 13 April that the international community should "bar the way" to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Djukanovic charged that "Milosevic is tragically behind the times in his assessments, and is always embarking on new political failures." The Montenegrin leader said that Milosevic's upcoming referendum against foreign mediation in Kosova is "the collective suicide...he proposes for the Serbian people." Djukanovic urged the international community to back his "efforts to form a block of reformist forces [in Yugoslavia] capable of barring the way to the damaging policies that Milosevic personifies." The Montenegrin president warned Belgrade that he may find it necessary "to open the country up to new perspectives" if Milosevic continues to treat Montenegro as a junior partner rather than as an equal. PM DJINDJIC CALLS FOR UNITED OPPOSITION. Zoran Djindjic, the leader of Serbia's Democratic Party, told a 12 April convention of the Citizens' League of Serbia in Belgrade that the opposition throughout federal Yugoslavia should unite on the basis of a common platform. Vesna Pesic, the president of the league, endorsed Djindjic's proposal, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. She added that Serbia needs democratization, economic reform, and an opening to the outside world. Pesic stressed that those goals cannot be achieved as long as Milosevic remains in power. Previous attempts to unite the opposition to Milosevic have been thwarted by personal rivalries and by Milosevic's divide-and-rule tactics. Nor has the Serbian opposition succeeded in convincing the Kosovars to join with them against Milosevic. PM KOSOVARS CONTINUE PROTESTS. Between 5,000 and 10,000 ethnic Albanians staged peaceful demonstrations in Prishtina from 11-13 April. Thousands more marched in several smaller towns as well, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Kosovar capital. All protests took place without incident. The current series of daily marches began in Prishtina last week, when 30,000 ethnic Albanians demonstrated against Serbian police repression and for an independent Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 April 1998). On 10 April, Serbian media reported that masked gunmen in Duha badly wounded an ethnic Albanian official of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia. PM OGATA MAKES REFUGEE PLANS IN MACEDONIA. Sadako Ogata, who is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said in Skopje on 11 April that contingency plans are being made for a possible refugee influx into Macedonia from Kosova if conditions there further deteriorate. "At the present time, there are no refugees from Kosova in Macedonia, [but] the possibility of an emergency is something that we have to be prepared [for]." She added that "there is no emergency, but to prepare for this is the best prevention." Kosovar officials recently told "RFE/RL Newsline" in Tirana that some Kosovar refugees have gone to Macedonia since the Serbian police crackdown began on 28 February. The officials stressed that Kosovars are much more likely to flee to Macedonia, where many have friends and relatives, than to Albania should the repression intensify. PM MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN PARTY TO BOYCOTT GOVERNMENT. Spokesmen for the Democratic Party of Albanians, which is one of the largest ethnic Albanian parties in Macedonia and one of the two represented in government bodies, said in Skopje on 13 April that its members who hold government posts will resign those positions. Eight members of the parliament are affected, along with nine mayors, and 240 town council members in numerous municipalities. The boycott comes in response to a recent ruling by the Skopje appeals court that Gostivar Mayor Rufi Osmani must serve a seven-year jail term for illegally flying the Albanian flag from his town hall last July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July 1997). The court ruled that Osmani not only failed to obey a court order to take down the flag during the riots on 9 July but that he also incited national, racial, and religious hatred. FS BELGRADE, ZAGREB PRESS CHARGES AGAINST SAKIC. Yugoslav state prosecutors have filed charges in Buenos Aires against Dinko Sakic, pro-Milosevic media reported on 13 April. Three days earlier, Croatian Justice Minister Miroslav Separovic said in Zagreb that he has launched proceedings for Sakic's extradition to Croatia. On 6 April, Sakic said on Argentinean television that he was a commander at Jasenovac, Croatia's largest concentration camp, from 1942-1944. Sakic denied that he knew anything about murders of Serbs, Jews, and Roma there. Sakic, who arrived in Argentina in 1947, went into hiding following the broadcast. Estimates of the number of deaths at Jasenovac range from several tens of thousands to 500,000. Sakic was 20 years old in 1942. PM WESTENDORP WARNS NATIONALISTS. A spokesman for Carlos Westendorp, who is the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 10 April that Westendorp will continue to remove from office nationalist officials who block the implementation of the Dayton peace agreement. The spokesman added that Westendorp may also ban such individuals from running in the general elections slated for 12-13 September. PM ALBANIAN GUNMAN SHOOTS DOCTOR. A gunman badly wounded a doctor at the Shkoder pediatric hospital on 10 April. Police said the attacker was seeking revenge for the death of his daughter in the same hospital a few days earlier after an unsuccessful operation. The following day, some 1,500 medical personnel demonstrated in Shkoder for better police protection. There were several shootings at Albanian hospitals during the anarchy last year. Meanwhile on Mount Dajti, near Tirana, a masked gunman wounded two British diplomats on 12 April in an apparent robbery attempt. Gunmen have recently made several attempts in the Tirana area to steal cars belonging to foreign officials. FS GREEKS CLOSE BORDER TO ALBANIAN MUSICIANS. Greek border guards at Kakavia denied entry to 73 Albanian musicians on 11 April, even though the Albanians had a valid visa to perform at a concert in Athens the following day, "Koha Jone" reported. The border guards explained that the Greek government had banned all cultural activities for three days following the death of a Greek Orthodox archbishop. The Tirana daily and the Greek embassy in the Albanian capital organized the concert, which was intended primarily for the large number of Albanians working in Greece. The border incident reflects the often brittle nature of relations between the two neighbors, an RFE/RL correspondent reports from Tirana. FS ROMANIAN COALITION AGREES ON ECONOMIC PLAN. Prime Minister- designate Radu Vasile said on 13 April that his government will put Romania on the "road of no return" toward economic reforms, Reuters reported. Vasile said that his center-right coalition has agreed on a program that involves restructuring the economy and privatizing major industries. Under a revised privatization plan, several large state firms would be privatized, to varying degrees, by certain deadlines this year. A document detailing the plan said that fiscal spending will remain "prudent." A joint session of the bicameral parliament is to vote on the plan on 15 April. PB VASILE DROPS MINISTER FOR BEING 'TURNCOAT.' Romanian Prime Minister-designate Radu Vasile removed his proposed agriculture minister on 11 April after the press had called the nominee a "political turncoat," Reuters reported. Vasile said "morality is just as important to me as professionalism" in removing Alexandru Bogdan. According to the newspaper reports, Bogdan was formerly affiliated with leftists. He is currently a member of Vasile's National Peasant Party Christian Democracy party. Vasile replaced Bogdan with Dinu Gavrilescu, who served as agriculture minister under the previous government. PB COALITION TALKS CONTINUE IN MOLDOVA. Dumitru Diakov, the leader of the For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc (PMDP), said on 11 April that negotiations with both the Communists and the centrist parties on forming a government are continuing, Infotag reported. The PMDP, which has 24 seats in the newly elected Moldovan parliament, is the only one of the three other parties in the new parliament that the Communist Party is considering as a coalition partner. It is also being courted by the Alliance of Democratic Forces and the Democratic Convention of Moldova to form a three-party coalition. If such a coalition was formed, the Communists -- who won the elections last month and have 40 deputies in the parliament -- would be left alone in opposition. Diakov said that so far, negotiations "with the Right were more constructive." PB TRANSDNIESTER LEADER STILL AILING. Igor Smirnov's press service says that the separatist leader is recovering at home but that his condition is "unsatisfactory," Basa-PRESS reported on 11 April. Smirnov is reported to be suffering from a "difficult influenza," although Transdniester officials do not deny that Smirnov recently suffered a heart attack. Smirnov was unable to meet with Igor Morozov, Russian President Boris Yeltsin's newly appointed representative to the Moldovan-Transdniestrian talks. Morozov held talks on 10 April with Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tabacaru. PB BULGARIAN, ROMANIAN, GREEK FOREIGN MINISTERS PLEDGE COOPERATION. Nadezhda Mihailova, Andrei Plesu, and Theodoros Pangalos ended two days of talks on the Greek island of Santorini on 11 April having agreed they must cooperate to ensure peace in the Balkans, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Talks centered on the conflict in Kosovo. Mihailova said the concern is that "the countries in the region not be isolated by the conflict." The three ministers also discussed setting up a Balkan rapid deployment force. The Santorini meeting was the fourth tripartite meeting of the countries. PB xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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