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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 73 Part II, 16 April 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 73  Part II, 16 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, tablesand articles:
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rumedia2/index.html

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Headlines, Part II

* LATVIAN COOPERATION COUNCIL AGREES ON CHANGES TO
CITIZENSHIP LAW

* HAVEL TO FACE SECOND OPERATION

* ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT

End Note: ALBANIANS SPLIT OVER KOSOVA

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN KGB TO ISSUE 'OFFICIAL WARNINGS.' Uladzimir
Matskevich, chief of the Belarusian KGB, has signed an order
on issuing official warnings to citizens engaged in
"unlawful actions," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on
15 April. According to that directive, a citizen may be
summoned to the KGB headquarters and given a warning on the
basis of incriminating information received by the agency.
The warning is to be signed by both parties and may
subsequently be included in the citizen's file if he
continues to engage in illegal activities. Vintsuk
Vyachorka, deputy chairman of the opposition Belarusian
Popular Front, said the directive is evidence that the KGB
is reviving old practices of  psychological terror against
citizens. JM

JAILED YOUTH LEADER DENIED COUNSEL OF HIS CHOICE. Pavel
Sevyarynets, 21-year-old leader of the Belarusian Popular
Front youth branch, has been denied his chosen counsel of
attorney by the prosecution, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service
informed on 15 April. Sevyarynets has been in jail since 5
April on charges of "malicious hooliganism" during the 2
April rally protesting the Russian-Belarusian union.
According to Harry Pahanyayla, Sevyarynets's chosen counsel,
the prosecution's decision violates Sevyarynets'
constitutional right to select his own attorney as well as a
number of international norms and agreements. JM

KUCHMA WANTS 'UNENGAGED POLITICIAN' AS SPEAKER... Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma said on 15 April he wants to see an
"unengaged politician" as new parliamentary speaker, ITAR-
TASS reported. In such a case, "the parliament will do its
job instead of engaging in political intrigues," Kuchma
asserted. He declined to give any names, but his spokesman
said Kuchma is opposed to the old parliament leadership,
thus hinting that the president is against Oleksandr Moroz's
re-election. JM

...IS CONFIDENT ABOUT NEW IMF LOAN. Also on 15 April, Kuchma
expressed confidence that the IMF will grant Ukraine a new
loan to help promote structural reforms. An IMF mission
currently in Kyiv is discussing a three-year loan worth some
$2.5 billion. Earlier this year, the fund suspended
installments of a stand-by loan. JM

LATVIAN COOPERATION COUNCIL AGREES ON CHANGES TO CITIZENSHIP
LAW. The Cooperation Council, which is composed of
representatives of the ruling coalition factions, has
reached agreement on amendments to the citizenship law, BNS
reported on 15 April. Those changes will be submitted to the
parliament next week. The ruling factions agreed that all
children born after 21 August 1991 will be entitled to
citizenship when they reach 16 years of age and if they can
prove efficiency in the Latvian language. They supported the
partial removal of the "naturalization windows" to allow all
non-citizens born in Latvia to be naturalized by 2001; other
non-citizens will be able to beome naturalized after that
date. And the factions backed a proposal to grant
naturalization to people who were Polish nationals on 17
June 1940 as well as to their offspring. On 16 April, a
Russian Foreign Ministry official described the agreement as
a "step in the right direction," ITAR-TASS reported. JC

LATVIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS ACTION PROGRAM. The cabinet on 15
April approved in principle an action program aimed at
increasing national and public safety and promoting
integration into the EU, BNS reported. Prime Minister
Guntars Krasts told journalists that the program gives
priority to setting up a system for crisis management,
saying that the situation in the country could be stabilized
by implementing the program. President Guntis Ulmanis, who
opened the meeting, had called last week for an emergency
cabinet session following the recent bombings of the Riga
synagogue and the Russian embassy in the Latvian capital. JC

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORTS LATVIA. Lawmakers
on 15 April unanimously adopted a document expressing
support for Latvia and denouncing any attempt to "apply
economic sanctions not approved by the UN and any other
external actions increasing international tension and
instability inside the country," BNS reported. The deputies
said they hoped the solidarity among the Baltic States,
diplomatic efforts by Latvia and Russia, and international
"prevention mechanisms" would help preserve a "normal
situation in the sensitive Baltic Sea region." To date,
there has been no official statement of support for Latvia
from either the Lithuanian government or the president.
Valdas Adamkus, however, is known to be sympathetic toward
Latvia in its current dispute with Russia. JC

POLAND, HUNGARY TO JOINTLY SEEK EUROPEAN INTEGRATION.
Aleksander Kwasniewski and Arpad Goncz, presidents of Poland
and Hungary, said on 15 April in Warsaw that their countries
are forming an alliance to seek entry to the EU and NATO,
Reuters and Hungarian sources reported. Goncz stressed that
Poland and Hungary are not rivals but partners on the road
to European structures. Kwasniewski pointed out that both
countries play the role of advocates in the integration
process, with Budapest supporting Slovenia and Romania at
international forums and Warsaw representing the interests
of Ukraine and the Baltic States. JM

HAVEL TO FACE SECOND OPERATION. The chief surgeon at the
Innsbruck hospital where Vaclav Havel underwent surgery on
14 April says the Czech president will have to undergo a
second operation in six weeks to remove a colostomy bag and
stitch together his intestine. "The risk will be very small
compared to the first emergency operation," the surgeon told
Reuters. Speaking from the hospital, Havel on 15 April
praised the parliament's decision to approve NATO
membership. He said that the legislature has "written a very
important chapter" in that " for the first time in our
history our security will be firmly embedded...in a
democratic world that protects democratic values," CTK
reported. MS

CZECH-GERMAN FUND FOR HOLOCAUST VICTIMS MAKES FIRST
PAYMENTS. The Czech-German fund for the victims of the
Holocaust, set up in January 1997 to foster Czech-German
reconciliation, has made its first payments, CTK reported on
15 April. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said the
payments went to social projects for the victims of the
Nazis. He added that Germany is "assuming its historical
responsibility" through those payments. MS

SLOVAK DEFENSE MINISTER SIGNS NEUTRALITY PETITION. Jan
Sitek, who is a member of the extreme right Slovak National
Party (SNS), has signed a petition calling for the country's
neutrality. The petition, which was launched last week by
the SNS (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 April 1998), also demands
the restoration of the death penalty. The government's
official position is that NATO membership is a Slovak
priority. A spokesman for Sitek said he signed the petition
"as a private citizen using his rights under the
constitution, rather than as a member of the government,"
Reuters reported. MS

PRO-MECIAR DAILY CALLS FOR STRONG ACTION AGAINST PLANNED
REFERENDUM. The pro-government "Slovenska Republika" on 14
April published an appeal to the government to use "any
means" to prevent a referendum in Sturovo on 19 April on
electing the country's president by popular vote and on NATO
membership. The referendum is identical to the one called
for by the opposition and annulled by Meciar after former
President Michal Kovac ended his term. "Slovenska Republika"
said the referendum in Sturovo had long been planned by
"Hungarian irredentists," and it called on the government to
mobilize special forces to prevent it. Meciar rejected the
appeal but said the next day that "the state must take
action against violators of the law," RFE/RL's Bratislava
bureau reported. MS

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT WILL NOT DEBATE RESTORING DEATH
PENALTY. Hungarian parliamentary chairman Zoltan Gal on 15
April said he will not convene a special session of the
parliament to debate the restoration of the death penalty.
The initiative for the debate came from Smallholders' Party
chairman Jozsef Torgyan, but the party has been unable to
gather the signatures of one-fifth of the deputies, as
demanded by the regulations. Gal said the initiative is
simply an "electoral campaign ploy," Hungarian media
reported. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on 15 April rejected
objections by the Federation of Jewish Communities to
allowing the neo-Nazi Hungarian Welfare Federation (MNSZ) to
run in the elections. The court ruled that the MNSZ is
legally registered as a political party. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

WESTENDORP REMINDS BOSNIANS OF HIS POWERS. Carlos
Westendorp, who is the international community's chief
representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 15 April that
"it is for the institutions of this country, for the
authorities of this country, to take decisions that are
permanent decisions. But for the time being, if they are not
capable of doing that, then somebody has to take the
responsibility--and if the authorities prefer that I take
this responsibility, I do it voluntarily." His remarks
follow the refusal of the Bosnian Serb mayor of Banja Luka
to allow the reconstruction of a mosque that Serbian
paramilitaries blew up in 1993 (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report,"
15 April 1998). The Sarajevo-based Serbian Civic Council and
some other non-nationalist Serbian organizations have
condemned the mayor's decision. PM

CROATIA PLEDGES STIFF GUN CONTROL LAW. Prime Minister Zlatko
Matesa said in Zagreb on 15 April that he will propose a
"radical law on possession of firearms, with severe
punishments. We know that the post-war period has its
problems but we also think there has come a time to collect
weapons from Croatian homes and store them in places where
they are properly kept." Matesa's statement came in response
to an incident the previous day in which a bar patron in
Slavonski Brod gunned down seven other patrons without
warning or provocation. The gunman then blew himself up in
his car. On 15 April, a veteran of the 1991-1995 war shot
and wounded himself in front of the Defense Ministry to
protest what he called the government's neglect of war
veterans. PM

ISRAEL BACKS CROATIA OVER SAKIC. Eytan Ben-Tsur, the
director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said in
Zagreb on 15 April that Israel "fully supports" Croatia's
request that Argentina extradite to Croatia suspected World
War II war criminal Dinko Sakic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15
April 1998). Ben-Tsur and President Franjo Tudjman issued a
joint statement saying the improvement of bilateral
relations is in the interest of both countries. Tudjman
added that "the development of relations between Croatia and
Israel...will help break certain stereotypes about Croatia,
which are the result of anti-Croat propaganda." Tudjman
hopes to visit Israel this year, but many Israelis regard
him as an anti-Semite and oppose the trip. Israel has
recently promoted good relations with Croatia in hopes of
securing key arms contracts. PM

'MACEDONIAN CLINTON' BLASTS ALLEGATIONS OF ADULTERY.
Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov told Skopje's "Dnevnik"
of 16 April that a 20-page special issue of the weekly
"Denes" the previous day was an "unscrupulous attempt" aimed
at discrediting him in the runup to the fall parliamentary
elections and at forcing a presidential vote ahead of the
1999 deadline. In an article headlined "The Macedonian
Clinton," "Denes" charged that the 81-year-old president is
having an affair with Katerina Kocevska, an actress who is
half his age and also his cultural adviser. Gligorov's wife
of 60 years also denied the "Denes" report and called it
"the ultimate insult." Kocevska was not available for
comment. PM

SESELJ TELLS SERBS TO BE READY FOR WAR. Serbian Deputy Prime
Minister Vojislav Seselj said on 15 April that the
possibility of "war [in Kosova] cannot be excluded, so we
must be ready for that option, but also do everything to
avoid it," Belgrade's BETA news agency reported. He added
that "some Western forces constantly encourage Albanian
separatists to [prepare for] open war," but the Kosovars
"know what they can expect in a possible war in which they
have no chance, since they can lose everything." PM

BELGRADE SAYS KINKEL DESTROYING YUGOSLAVIA. Belgrade's
state-run Tanjug news agency said in an editorial on 15
April that German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel "favors and
protects" Kosova's Albanians. "It is obvious that Kinkel,
and those behind his policy, wish to break up Yugoslavia
into pieces. That is the reason for the blatant, ruthless,
and unprecedented interference in the internal affairs of
Serbia and Yugoslavia." In recent months, Germany has been
one of many countries calling on Belgrade to grant autonomy
to Kosova and urging the Kosovars to forget about
independence. Kinkel is currently visiting the successor
states to the former Yugoslavia. PM

ROW OVER INCIDENT AT TIRANA YUGOSLAV EMBASSY. A high school
student on 15 April jumped over the walls of the heavily-
guarded federal Yugoslav embassy in Tirana, climbed onto the
balcony, and tore down the Yugoslav flag, ignoring warning
shots fired by police. The boy, who said he acted out of
"hatred for the Serbs," was arrested. The embassy protested
the incident. In Belgrade, the Foreign Ministry summoned the
Albanian charge d'affaires to protest "the attack," Tanjug
reported. The ministry demanded that the Albanian
authorities again increase security for the embassy (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 12 March 1998). FS

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT... The center-
left parliamentary majority has approved the new government
nominated by Prime Minister Fatos Nano (see "RFE/RL
Newsline" 15 April 1998). In a last-minute move, Nano named
the non-party painter Edi Rama to replace the Socialist Arta
Dade as culture minister. Media reports suggest that Dade
angered Nano by signing a cultural agreement with the
Kosovar shadow-state government without the premier's
permission. Former Interior Minister and Minister of Local
Government-designate Neritan Ceka unexpectedly voted against
the new government, arguing that procedural rules were
violated. President Rexhep Meidani must still approve the
new cabinet, "Koha Jone" reported. FS

...WHILE DEMOCRATS WALK OUT OF PARLIAMENT. Democratic Party
leader Sali Berisha told a press conference in Tirana on 15
April that his party will again boycott the parliament, this
time to protest the government changes. He argued that
parliamentary speaker Skender Gjinushi violated house rules
by rushing through the vote within one day, rather than
giving the opposition three days to discuss the new cabinet,
"Albania" reported. Berisha also said the new government is
not legitimate, predicting that it "will be short-lived" and
calling for new elections. The Democrats have frequently
boycotted the parliament since it lost the June 1997
elections. FS

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT. By a vote of
317 to 124, the bicameral parliament on 15 April endorsed
Radu Vasile's cabinet, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.
The opposition Alliance for Romania voted in favor of
endorsing the government. Vasile told legislators that the
cabinet and its program are "the only alternative to early
elections, which...would be an unforgivable waste of time
and energy." He stressed that the coalition is committed to
democratic and economic reforms and that no one should be
surprised about "elements of continuity" between the cabinet
he heads and that of his predecessor, Victor Ciorbea. MS

ROMANIAN PREMIER ON DANGERS AHEAD. In an interview with
RFE/RL on 15 April, Vasile said Romania "has no more than
10-12 months to prove it is serious about economic reforms."
He warned that both reform and democracy are endangered by
the decline of living standards, which, he said, could
provoke a resurgence of extremism. The state bureaucracy's
opposition and its functioning on the basis of personal and
political favors also pose a danger, as does the "lack of
responsibility of politicians." Vasile pledged that the
state bureaucracy, starting with the government itself, will
be "drastically reduced." He said the participation of
representatives of the Hungarian minority in the government
is "beneficial" and that Romania will never face inter-
ethnic and religious conflicts such as those in former
Yugoslavia. MS

SMIRNOV ON CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS. Igor Smirnov, the leader
of the separatist Transdniester republic, said on 15 April
that the Supreme Soviet and its chairman, Grigori Marakutsa,
have violated the constitution and "abused power." Last
week, the parliament sacked Oleg Natakhin, the chairman of
the National Bank, Security Minister Vladimir Antyufev, and
Finance Minister Nina Voinarovskaya, saying they were
responsible for the three-fold devaluation of the
Transdniester ruble (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 7 April
1998). Smirnov named Eduard Kosovski to replace Natakhin,
but the separatist leader stressed that only he has the
right to sack cabinet ministers, unless the legislature
twice votes no confidence in them. Sources close to Smirnov
say he has no intention of dismissing Voinarovskaya and
Antyufev, who is considered particularly close to Smirnov.
MS

EBRD AGREES TO LATER SHUTDOWN OF BULGARIAN NUCLEAR REACTORS.
Charles Frank, chairman of the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development, told BTA on 15 April that
the deadline for the closing the aged nuclear reactors at
Kozloduy can be extended and that a new date will be
discussed later this month. The Bulgarian government in 1993
agreed to shut down the reactors by the end of 1998 and
received from the EBRD $26 million in financial assistance
for improving the safety of the reactors. Bulgaria has
received a total of $180 million from different sources to
upgrade the reactors' safety, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau
reported. MS

BULGARIA HANDS DOWN FIRST SENTENCES TO CD PIRATES. Three
persons have been given suspended sentences by a court in
Nessebar for distributing illegally produced compact discs,
an official of the Ministry of Culture told Reuters on 15
April. These are the first sentences handed down for CD
piracy in Bulgaria, which has been placed by the U.S. on a
piracy "watch list" and was threatened with trade sanctions
for production of pirated discs, estimated at 15 million
annually. MS

END NOTE

ALBANIANS SPLIT OVER KOSOVA

by Michael J. Jordan

	The battle lines in Kosova seem clear-cut. The
Albanian minority wants independence. Serbia--which, along
with Montenegro, makes up postwar Yugoslavia--steadfastly
rejects it. And the West prefers something in between:
autonomy reinstated to the Serbian province, where Albanians
outnumber Serbs by nine to one
	But to neighboring Albania, the situation is far from
black-and-white. Indeed, it finds itself in an unenviable
pinch: sandwiched between its utter dependence on the West
for financial aid and its loyalty to the Kosova Albanians.
Seemingly everyone in northern Albania has a cousin across
the border. Those blood ties may drag the state into war
with Serbia. Yet so far, pragmatism has won out over
idealism: Albania toes the diplomatic line on the Kosova
question.
	"I haven't seen them say 'no' to the West on
anything," says a Western observer who heads a
nongovernmental organization in Tirana. But Albania's
leaders--former Communists elected last summer after anarchy
swept the country--are quick to defend their foreign policy
as sovereign. "We are not supporting the ideas of the West
because we are weak or in crisis--we think this is the best
solution now," Foreign Minister Paskal Milo says. "The
Kosova Albanians need to understand that in politics there
are compromises. And when you have two extreme positions,
it's impossible to work without compromise."
	Milo insists that theirs is a well-intentioned attempt
to introduce a "new philosophy" to an Albanian nation with
no tradition of democracy, only of iron-fisted leadership.
Yet Western-style diplomacy has elicited mixed reactions
among ordinary Albanians. Far from the Kosova border, in
central and southern Albania, is a public occupied again
with its poverty, not the perpetual problem of Kosova.
Already Europe's poorest country, Albania sank even deeper
when several huge pyramid-investment schemes collapsed a
year ago. The violent backlash left some 3,000 dead. "We
Albanians have many problems of our own to solve first
before we start fighting again," says one young woman in
Tirana.
	But the mood is different in the rugged mountains of
northern Albania. In the city of Kukes, 14 miles from the
Kosova border, locals do not appreciate the moderate
language of Prime Minister Fatos Nano. Albanian
"patriotism," they say half-jokingly, is gauged by how much
you hate Serbs. Widespread joblessness fuels that enmity;
the bustle of daytime street activity is actually restless
men moving from one cafe to another. One senses that war
would give them something to do.
	Albanians here want Tirana to take a harder line with
Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic following the massacre
of some 80 Kosovar "terrorists" by Serbian police more than
a month ago. If their Kosovar brethren continue to die in
large numbers--and Tirana resists intervention--those well-
armed northerners vow to rush in.
	The 500,000 restive Albanians in Macedonia have
pledged to do the same. "If war starts, one man from every
family would go fight; the bloodshed
would affect everyone here," says Jonuz Hallaci, a
journalist with Radio Kukes. "[The Serbs] have done so many
bad things to us over the years that you couldn't resist
revenge, no matter how big a heart you have."
	Capitalizing on such sentiment is Sali Berisha, who
was seemingly down and out last year. The charismatic former
president is again surging in popularity, attacking Mr.
Nano's policies with nationalist rhetoric. If violence in
Kosova escalates, Berisha, a northerner, could be the spark
that galvanizes Albanians against Serbia. Milo and other
Albanian officials concede they have so far failed to
effectively communicate the importance of diplomacy over
saber-rattling. Albania, they note, also has no tradition of
regard for public opinion.
	Being forced to rein in the hotheads of Kukes is a
worrisome prospect for Tirana. With its army and police
still recovering from last year's anarchy, the state has
requested stepped-up cooperation with NATO. A civilian
monitoring group from the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe is also being set up. And in
Macedonia, a United Nations force including 350 U.S. troops
is watching for spillover.
	Albania will likely continue to take cues from
Washington and the EU: the state could not survive without
their economic and political support. And turning up the
heat are Italy, Greece, and Germany. War would likely
unleash a wave of refugees, who would pause only briefly in
Albania before heading West. Thousands of Albanians washed
onto Italy's shores last year.
	Officials in Tirana try to put the best face on their
situation. Autonomy, while far from an ideal solution, could
be a means to an end, says Nano spokesman Ben Blushi. In
words that would make Serb nationalists blanch, Blushi says:
"If we go for autonomy, 10 years later who knows? It may
lead to a better, self-determined solution." At least that's
the line Tirana officials will whisper into Kosovar ears.
	But backing the Western powers is a gamble. They
showed less than total resolve to stamp out the war in
Bosnia or punish Iraq's Saddam Hussein for violating UN
agreements. If the West fails with Kosova, at best it will
cost Nano and his cohorts popular support; at worst, it will
likely mean another war in the Balkans.
	As one Kosova Albanian puts it, "We have to fight for
independence. Autonomy comes with no guarantee: They gave it
to us once and took it away [in 1989]. Why wouldn't they do
it again?"

The author is the Budapest-based correspondent for the
"Christian Science Monitor."

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