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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 71 Part II, 14 April 1998


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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

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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

* RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS 'NO SOFTENING' ON LATVIA

* UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT THREATENS TO FIRE MANAGERS

* DJUKANOVIC URGES WEST TO 'BAR WAY' TO MILOSEVIC

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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

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