To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 72 Part II, 15 April 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 72 Part II, 15 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

* CZECH PARLIAMENT APPROVES JOINING NATO

* CROATIA AT 'TURNING POINT' ON REFUGEE RETURNS

* ALBANIAN COALITION TO FORM NEW GOVERNMENT

End Note: THE POLITICAL ENDS OF RUSSIAN ECONOMIC ADVICE

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

CHORNOBYL REACTOR TO RESUME OPERATION. Serhiy Parashyn,
director of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, told
journalists on 14 April that the plant's third reactor will
resume operation on 5 May following President Leonid
Kuchma's directive to that effect, ITAR-TASS reported. The
reactor has been undergoing repairs for the past nine
months, and further repairs are planned for later this year.
The first and second reactors remain shut down under
pressure from the West, while the fourth, which exploded in
late April 1986, is buried under a concrete sarcophagus
urgently in need of reconstruction. According to Parashyn,
the G-7 intends to pay Ukraine only $400 million out of the
$750 million originally pledged to reinforce the
sarcophagus. JM

UKRAINE, RUSSIA LAUNCH JOINT NAVAL MANEUVERS. The Russian
and Ukrainian naval fleets began large-scale joint maneuvers
in the Black Sea on 14 April. The two countries are
deploying a combined total of 37 vessels in what a Russian
naval spokesman described as "the biggest Russian-Ukrainian
maneuvers since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991," AFP
reported. The eight-day exercises will simulate pursuit of
enemy submarines and include missile launches and parachute
landings on the Crimean peninsula. JM

IMF CLOSES OFFICE IN MINSK. Richard Haas, head of the IMF
permanent representation in Minsk, is to return to
Washington, "Svaboda" reported on 15 April. Following his
departure, an IMF representative in Lithuania will assume
responsibility for Belarus. The IMF, which set up an office
in Minsk in 1992, has released only $70 million of the $500
million in credits it originally pledged to Belarus.
According to "Svaboda," the IMF has stopped cooperating with
Belarus owing to the government's unwillingness to carry out
reform, in particular establishing the independence of the
National Bank and accelerating privatization. JM

OPPOSITION CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT OVER 'SUBOTNIKS.' Vintsuk
Vyachorka, deputy chairman of the opposition Belarusian
Popular Front, told journalists on 14 April that the
government's decision to hold "subotniks" (days of unpaid or
partly paid labor) on 11 and 18 April violates labor
legislation and human rights, Belapan reported. Under the
law, Vyachorka explained, mandatory labor for which part of
the earnings is paid into various funds can be enforced only
in the event of a natural disaster. "Most likely, recent
events in the Belarusian economy are put on a par by the
authorities with a natural disaster," he said. JM

ESTONIAN SUPREME COURT RULES CLEMENCY BILL UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
The Supreme Court on 14 April ruled that the clemency bill
is unconstitutional since it would have curbed the
president's right to grant clemency, ETA reported. President
Lennart Meri had twice refused to sign the bill, objecting
to its provision for a committee that would have advised the
president on matters related to granting clemency. The court
ruled that the committee's authority would have been too
great and that the president's constitutional right to grant
clemency cannot be curtailed. JC

LATVIAN WORKING GROUP DIVIDED OVER 'NATURALIZATION WINDOWS.'
A working group composed of government parties on 14 April
failed to agree on how to change the system of
"naturalization windows" enshrined in the citizenship law,
BNS reported. All members of the group stressed that the
system should be amended, but they could not agree on what
those changes should be. One proposal is that all non-
citizens born in Latvia be granted citizenship by 2001;
another is that people who came to Latvia as minors be
included among those granted citizenship by 2001; and a
third proposal is that the "naturalization window" be
removed altogether. The group was due to meet again to seek
a consensus on the issue. JC

IMF COMMENDS LATVIA ON ECONOMIC SUCCESSES. Latvia has
received a commendation from the Executive Board of the IMF
for its economic and financial successes, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Washington reported. But while praising
Riga for its "prudent financial policies," the board
cautioned that Latvia must re-energize the privatization
process, especially for large enterprises. It also urged
Latvian authorities to continue improving tax collection and
administration, in addition to increasing the transparency
of the budget process and pushing ahead with pension system
reforms. JC

RUSSIA WELCOMES ADAMKUS'S READINESS FOR DIALOGUE. The press
office of Russian President Boris Yeltsin on 14 April issued
a statement welcoming a recent statement by Lithuanian
President Valdas Adamkus expressing readiness to continue an
active dialogue with Russia. "The strengthening of genuine
good-neighborliness and trust with Lithuania remains a
priority in Russian foreign policy. That is the firm
intention of the Russian leadership," the statement said,
according to ITAR-TASS and BNS. The statement also greeted
Lithuania's intention to develop cooperation with
Kaliningrad Oblast, adding that the conclusion of a long-
term, intergovernmental agreement on the oblast would
increase prospects for "deepening Russian-Lithuanian
relations." JC

POLISH GOVERNMENT TO REDUCE 70,000 JOBS IN COAL MINING.
Polish Deputy Economic Minister Janusz Szlazak announced on
14 April that by the year 2000, some 70,000 jobs in the coal
mining industry will be slashed, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported.
Szlazak said the government does not plan group layoffs;
rather, it believes that a social protection package will
prompt miners to resign. That package will include paid
leave and unemployment benefits for miners nearing
retirement age as well as one-time payments for younger
miners. The job cuts are intended to make the coal-mining
industry financially self-sufficient. JM

CZECH PARLIAMENT APPROVES JOINING NATO. The lower house of
the Czech parliament has voted by 154 to 38 in favor of
joining NATO, CTK reported on 15 April. Only the Communists
and the extreme Republicans opposed joining the alliance.
Deputies spent the previous day debating the issue, and
small pro- and anti-NATO demonstrations were held. The issue
must still be approved by the Czech Senate, which is
dominated by mainstream parties that support NATO accession.
PB

CZECH PRESIDENT RECOVERING AFTER EMERGENCY SURGERY. Vaclav
Havel is in stable condition after emergency abdominal
surgery in Innsbruck, Austria, on 14 April. Havel, who was
vacationing in Austria, complained of abdominal pain and was
rushed to a hospital, where he underwent nearly four hours
of surgery to repair a tear in his large intestine. He is
expected to remain in hospital for 10-12 days. PB

HUNGARY, AUSTRIA AT ODDS OVER VISAS FOR ROMANIANS. Hungarian
Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs said on 14 April that he is
against imposing visa requirements on Romanians, as Austria
is insisting. Kovacs said in Debrecen that Hungary should
not differentiate between Slovakia and Romania in applying
visa regulations and that Budapest does not want an
"impenetrable wall" erected between Hungary and Romania,
where many ethnic Hungarians live. Kovacs did acknowledge
that the border must be tightened. Austrian Interior
Minister Karl Schlogel said on 12 April that one-third of
illegal aliens entering via Hungary are of Romanian origin.
PB

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CROATIA AT 'TURNING POINT' ON REFUGEE RETURNS. Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman told U.S. and U.K. diplomats in
Zagreb on 14 April that Croatia will consider all requests
by Croatian Serbs to return home on an individual,
humanitarian basis. Tudjman cautioned that the arrival of
all refugees at the same time could prove destabilizing and
lead to what he called the tense state of affairs that
prevailed before the Serbian uprising in 1990-1991, an
RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. The diplomats
reminded Tudjman that the pace of Croatia's integration into
Euro-Atlantic structures is closely linked to its treatment
of returning refugees. The diplomats also expressed the hope
that the parliament will approve measures on refugee return
recently worked out by Croatian and international officials.
U.S. Ambassador to Croatia William Montgomery said that
"this is a fork in the road for Croatia" (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 31 March and 1 April 1998). PM

SAKIC CASE OFFERS OPPORTUNITY FOR CROATIA. A spokesman for
the Croatian People's Party said in Zagreb on 14 April that
the current case surrounding suspected World War II war
criminal Dinko Sakic is an excellent opportunity for the
present Croatian state to underscore the differences between
it and Hitler's wartime puppet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14
April 1998). The spokesman said the government's request
that Argentina extradite Sakic is a step in the right
direction. In Buenos Aires, a Croatian embassy spokesman
said Argentina has agreed to the request. Meanwhile in
Belgrade, several Serbian experts on World War II war crimes
called for the extradition of Sakic's wife as well, the
daily "Danas" reported on 14 and 15 April. The experts
charge that Nada Sakic (who now uses the name Esperanza) was
the wartime commander of the women's concentration camp at
Gradiska, where she committed atrocities. PM

GERMANS WILLING TO HELP CATCH KARADZIC. German Defense
Minister Volker Ruehe said in Sarajevo on 14 April that
German peacekeepers will participate in any NATO action to
apprehend indicted war criminals if the Germans are asked to
do so. Ruehe added that he is confident that all indicted
war criminals will appear in The Hague sooner or later. On
11 April, the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA quoted Radovan
Karadzic's wife Ljiljana as saying that her husband will
never give himself up (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 April
1998). On 14 April, Serbian media quoted hard-line Bosnian
Serb politician Bozidar Vucurevic as saying that Karadzic is
in eastern Herzegovina and that 23,000 Bosnian Serb soldiers
will defend him against any attempt to arrest him. PM

SLOVENIAN AID FOR BOSNIA. Slovenian parliamentary speaker
Janez Podobnik presented Bosnian officials in Sarajevo on 14
April with an aid package worth $600,000. Slovenian Foreign
Trade Minister Marijan Senjur added that total Slovenian
assistance to Bosnia this year will reach $3 million.
Presidents Milan Kucan and Alija Izetbegovic met in
Ljubljana the previous week. PM

GARROD WARNS HERZEGOVINIANS. Martin Garrod, who is the
international community's chief representative in Mostar,
called on the ultranationalist Croatian leadership in the
town of Stolac to investigate recent minings and burnings of
Muslim homes in the area, and to publish the findings of
their investigation. In February, Carlos Westendorp, the
international community's chief representative in Bosnia,
fired the police chief of Stolac for not allowing Muslim
refugees to go home. In March, Westendorp sacked the mayor
of Stolac for the same reason. PM

SESELJ SAYS WEST WON'T START WAR IN KOSOVA. Serbian Deputy
Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj told a private television
station in Lesovac on 14 April that there will be no war in
Kosova because the Western powers "prefer to advance their
goals by peaceful means," BETA news agency reported. In
Prishtina, a policeman was wounded when unidentified
individuals threw at least two hand grenades into a police
station in an ethnic Albanian neighborhood. And in the Decan
area, some 40 ethnic Serbian families recently left their
villages and are now settled together in a nearby recreation
area. The Serbs told BETA that they moved because they
feared attacks by armed Albanians. It is unclear if they
moved voluntarily or were resettled by the authorities. PM

RADIOACTIVE SALT IN SERBIA. The opposition Democratic Party
said in a statement in Belgrade on 14 April that it wants
those persons responsible for the import of radioactive salt
from Belarus to be investigated and punished. Some 50,000
kilograms of imported Belarusian table salt were found last
week to be radioactive, the Belgrade daily "Danas" reported.
The Democratic Party statement added that 50,000 tons of
Belarusian salt were imported last year and that plans for
this year call for total salt imports from Belarus to reach
100,000 tons. PM

ALBANIAN COALITION TO FORM NEW GOVERNMENT. Members of the
governing center-left coalition agreed in Tirana on 14 April
to set up a new government with 18 members, down from the
current 22. Socialist Deputy Prime Minister Bashkim Fino
will replace fellow Socialist Sabit Brokaj as defense
minister, and Socialist Luan Hajdaraga will become interior
minister in place of the Democratic Alliance's Neritan Ceka,
who will take up the portfolio on local government.
Socialist Ilir Meta will head the new Ministry for Euro-
Atlantic Integration, "Koha Jone" reported. The parliament
must approve the new government. Socialist Prime Minister
Fatos Nano has repeatedly criticized the outgoing cabinet
for inefficiency and indifference (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2
April 1998). FS

ALBANIAN POLICE ACTION OVER MISSING CHILDREN. Tirana police
seized birth registers and related files from the capital's
hospitals on 14 April, "Koha Jone" reported. The police are
investigating reports of alleged organized traffic in
children and in the organs of children. Meanwhile near Fier,
a gunman killed two policemen, bringing the total number of
Albanian police killed this year to nine. And near Tirana,
police arrested four suspects in connection with the recent
shooting of two British diplomats on Mount Dajti (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 14 April 1998). FS

MOLDOVA'S COMMUNISTS TO FORM OPPOSITION? Vladimir Voronin,
head of the Party of Moldovan Communists, said on 14 April
that the party could function as the opposition, even though
it won the most votes in the 22 March elections, Infotag
reported. Voronin said it would be easy for the Communists
to remain in the opposition, although they are still willing
to form a coalition with the For a Prosperous and Democratic
Moldova Bloc (PMDP). Voronin said the Communists are not
against private businesses or the free market but that
"runaway capitalism" has turned Moldova into "one big
Turkish bazaar." The PMDP has not rejected forming a
coalition with the Communists but says it will most likely
form a government with the other two parties elected to the
parliament. PB

GREECE, BULGARIA TO DEVELOP INFRASTRUCTURE. Bulgarian
President Petar Stoyanov said on 14 April that Balkan policy
in the future will be "big infrastructure projects," Reuters
reported. Stoyanov was speaking to reporters after meeting
with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis. Stoyanov said the
two countries will work to build a "new pro-European image
of the region." He said they agreed to build a highway
between the Black Sea port of Bourgas and the Greek city of
Ormenion. Simitis also met with his Bulgarian counterpart,
Ivan Kostov. Greece is Bulgaria's fourth largest trading
partner. PB

GREECE SUPPORTS BASING BALKAN FORCE IN BULGARIAN CITY. A
Bulgarian parliamentary spokesman said on 14 April that
Greece supports the basing of an all-Balkan rapid reaction
force in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, AFP reported. His
comments came after Greek Foreign Minister Teodoros Pangalos
met with Assen Agov, the head of the Bulgarian parliamentary
Foreign Affairs Committee. The proposed force would include
troops from Slovenia, Turkey, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece,
Romania, and Albania. The establishment of such a force was
discussed at the recent Romanian-Bulgarian-Greek meeting
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 April 1998). PB

END NOTE

THE POLITICAL ENDS OF RUSSIAN ECONOMIC ADVICE

by Paul Goble

	Even as Moscow applies economic pressure to Latvia,
Russian officials are once again seeking to use economic
arguments to promote Moscow's political influence over the
members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
	Last week, a spokesman for the Russian Ministry for
Relations with the CIS Countries suggested that reversing
the decline in trade turnover among those countries is the
key to restarting their economic growth. Deputy Minister
Marat Khasmutdinov noted that overall trade turnover among
the CIS countries was down 10 percent in 1997, following
similar decreases after the collapse of the USSR. He said
that such trade now amounted to only 6 percent of the CIS's
total GDP, down from 21 percent in 1992. Only by increasing
trade, he concluded, can those countries deal with their
current economic slump.
	On the face of it, such arguments are plausible; after
all, an expansion in foreign trade has often helped power
economic growth. But there are three reasons why the
countries involved are unlikely to take such arguments
seriously, even if Western commentators find them
attractive.
	First, the decline in trade turnover among the former
Soviet republics belonging to the CIS is not the primary
cause of their economic distress. And reversing that decline
would not necessarily be the primary cause of their
recovery. Indeed, such a change might impede further
economic reform.
	It is certainly the case that dislocations in trade
following the collapse of the USSR had an impact on the
economic situation of the 12 member states of the CIS. When
the Soviet Union fell apart, enterprises and ministries on
the territory of each of the 12 countries suddenly had to
seek new partners to obtain raw materials and spare parts as
well as new markets to sell their own products. But whatever
impact that process had on their economic growth, an even
greater role was played by the shift toward a free market in
many of those countries, the collapse of political
authority, and the impact that uncertainty about those two
processes had on both foreign and domestic investment.
	Second, the CIS itself has little prospect of becoming
the most relevant trade organization for most of the
countries that are currently its members.
	On the one hand, most have more natural trade partners
beyond its borders. Moscow managed the Soviet economy in
such a way as to promote the integration of its empire into
a single state, cutting off the republics from most foreign
trade and creating chains of economic activity that could be
described only as irrational. In many cases, individual
republics could have made far more by selling their products
abroad than they did by providing them to Moscow. And few of
them could have foreseen the effect their past dependence on
Moscow for determining prices and patterns of trade would
have on their ability to make their own way after the
collapse of the USSR.
	On the other hand, the CIS is increasingly becoming
more a Russian claim than a genuine reality. Since its
creation in December 1991, the CIS has adopted some 800
agreements, very few of which have been approved by all the
members or implemented even when they are approved. As a
result, and whatever the advocates of the CIS say in its
defense, the commonwealth is simply not the most important
actor in either the economic or political lives of its
member states. Indeed, an increasing number of the leaders
of those countries have indicated that they remain members
only because of the likelihood of a sharp Russian reaction
should they leave.
	Third, such arguments obscure the fundamental
difference between economic integration and economic
reintegration. As the Soviet Union approached its end,
President Mikhail Gorbachev and his supporters routinely
pointed to developments in the EU, arguing that integration
rather than disintegration was the order of the day. Russian
officials are again making such claims, but those arguments
are unlikely to impress many because they represent a
confusion between integration and reintegration.
	Integration is a natural process, reflecting both
individual national interests and a level of self-confidence
that would allow countries to yield some of their
sovereignty for other gains. Reintegration, particularly in
this context, is about the forced remarriage of countries
that have only recently completed their divorce. Even before
all the CIS member countries of the CIS can feel confident
about their status, some Moscow officials are advocating
that in the name of economic interests, those countries
yield some of the sovereignty that still alludes them.
	But the reactions of the non-Russian countries to such
proposals in the past suggest that most of those states will
view such arguments for what they almost certainly are: a
political program to expand Moscow's influence rather than a
genuinely economic one intended to benefit them all.


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