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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 78 Part II, 23 April 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 78  Part II, 23 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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Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT REDRAFTS 1998 BUDGET TO MEET IMF
TARGETS

* KOSOVAR ALBANIANS CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL MEDIATION

* ALBRIGHT PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR MONTENEGRO
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT REDRAFTS 1998 BUDGET TO MEET IMF
TARGETS. Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov has said the
government will submit a revised 1998 budget to the Supreme
Council in May, Ukrainian Television reported. The document
will put the deficit at 2.5 percent of GDP, compared with
3.1 percent in the current budget. Mityukov said the change
is a condition for obtaining new IMF credits. An IMF mission
is considering a $2.5 billion loan for Ukraine to support
structural economic reforms. JM

UKRAINIAN CURRENCY EXCHANGE CHAIRMAN KILLED. Vadym Hetman,
head of the Ukrainian Interbank Currency Exchange, has been
shot dead at his home in Kyiv by an unknown assailant. A
Kyiv Interior Ministry Directorate spokesman told Interfax
on 22 April that the police believe there are three possible
reasons for the murder. Two of those reasons are economic.
The third is political and related to "serious conflict
situations" in the recent elections, in which Hetman made an
unsuccessful bid for a parliamentary seat. JM

LUKASHENKA EASES CONTROL OVER CITIZENS' FINANCES...
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has issued a
decree liberalizing administrative control over individual
hard-currency deposits, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported
on 22 April. The decree states that the government will
guarantee the safety of deposits and return the money upon
the depositor's first request. Furthermore, deposits will be
tax-free and confidential, while depositors will not be
required to disclose the source of their money. The
Belarusian Central Bank chairman said the decree will draw
an additional $2 billion into the economy. JM

...INTRODUCES MANDATORY INCOME DECLARATION. Also on 22
April, Lukashenka signed a decree introducing mandatory
income and property declaration, Interfax reported on 22
April. Citizens are now obliged to declare real estate and
personal possessions each of which is worth more than 200
minimum wages. Failure to submit a declaration or supplying
false data incurs a fine of 20-50 minimum wages. JM

LUKASHENKA STRESSES ECONOMIC TIES WITH GERMANY. Lukashenka
said at an industrial fair in Hannover on 22 April that
Minsk sees Germany as its main economic partner in the West,
ITAR-TASS reported. Lukashenka, who is visiting the fair at
the invitation of German businessmen, complained that the
German government makes bilateral cooperation conditional on
the political situation in Belarus. "If we cannot interact
politically, we will focus on economic and trade ties,"
ITAR-TASS quoted Lukashenka as saying. Meanwhile, Gerhard
Schroeder, the opposition candidate for chancellor, has come
under fire for his luncheon meeting with Lukashenka at the
fair. A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said Schroeder
"has gone outside the positions" of the EU and the Bundestag
prohibiting contacts with Lukashenka owing to human rights
violations in Belarus. JM

ESTONIAN BANKS SIGN MERGER AGREEMENT. The Union Bank and the
Bank of Tallinn, Estonia's largest and fourth-largest banks,
have signed a formal merger agreement, ETA reported on 22
April. The merger creates the largest financial institution
in the Baltic States, with assets totaling nearly 16 billion
kroons (some $1.06 billion). The Union Bank will have a 80.3
percent stake in the new institution and the Bank of Tallinn
19.7 percent. The two banks signed a preliminary merger
accord earlier this year. JC

OPPOSITION FAILS TO CALL CONFIDENCE VOTE IN ENVIRONMENT
MINISTER. The United Opposition on 22 April failed to
collect enough votes to call a vote of no confidence in
Environment Minister Villu Reiljan, ETA reported. The
opposition has accused Reiljan of the "careless and
ineffective" use of tax payers' money and of breaking the
law. Reiljan rejects those accusations, saying he achieved
additional income for the state and has not mismanaged
funds. In 1996, at Reiljan's initiative, the Environment
Ministry invested state funds totaling 19 million kroons
($1.27 million) in stocks, reaping a 7 million profit. The
State Audit Office is to carry out an investigation to
determine whether Reiljan acted within the law. JC

LATVIAN PREMIER AGREES TO CONFIDENCE VOTE IN CABINET.
Guntars Krasts has agreed to a vote of confidence in a new
government, BNS and Reuters reported on 22 April. The vote,
which follows the departure earlier this month of the
largest coalition partner, is scheduled to take place on 30
April. Before then, Krasts and the remaining coalition
partners will agree on a new cabinet lineup, a government
spokesman said. Also on 22 April, Krasts told an
extraordinary session of the parliament, at which he
presented the government's stabilization plan, that he
regards the Latvian economy as stable, although he admitted
there is a "certain instability" in the political sphere and
"drawbacks in the security and foreign policy sectors." He
added that Russia's recent threats of trade sanctions
confirm the "need to strengthen our political and economic
direction--EU integration, close cooperation with Baltic and
Nordic states, and a reorientation to more stable and wider
markets." JC

DOCTORS SAYS HAVEL'S HEALTH CONTINUES TO IMPROVE. The
Austrian doctors treating Czech President Vaclav Havel on 22
April said that the state of his health has shown a "slight
further improvement" and that he will be gradually be
brought out of an artificially induced sleep "in the coming
days," CTK reported. They also said he will soon be able to
breathe normally, without the aid of a respirator. MS

U.S. COMPANY TO PURCHASE TROUBLED CZECH PLANE MANUFACTURER.
The government on 22 April approved an agreement for selling
its 93 percent stake in the Let Kunovice airplane
manufacturer to the Georgia-based U.S. Ayres Corp. Minister
of Trade and Industry Karel Kuhnl told journalists that
Ayres Corp. will pay $4.5 million and will invest a further
$20 million in Let Kunovice, whose debts total some $1.2
million. MS

HUNGARIAN ETHNIC PARTIES MERGE IN SLOVAKIA. The three
political parties representing Hungarian ethnics (Co-
existence, the Christian Democratic Hungarian Movement, and
the Hungarian Civic Party) have reached an agreement to
merge to form a new party, Hungarian media reported on 22
April. Previously, the parties were joined in an alliance.
The merger to form a party comes after Prime Minister
Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia
submitted a draft law that would raise the threshold for
parliamentary representation from the present 5 percent to 5
percent for each formation represented in an electoral
alliance, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVAR ALBANIANS CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL MEDIATION. A
delegation of Kosovar Albanians have called on the
international community to become involved in seeking a
solution to the crisis in the Yugoslav province, AFP
reported on 22 April. The delegation was in Strasbourg to
meet with officials from the Council of Europe, whose
Parliamentary Assembly released a statement saying a
solution can be found only "on the basis of greater
autonomy" for Kosova within Yugoslavia "where democratic
reforms will intervene." Edita Tahiri, the leader of the
delegation and a member of the leading Democratic League of
Kosova, said talks between Belgrade and ethnic Albanians to
be moderated by the EU, the UN, and the U.S. should be held
as soon as possible. She said the situation in Kosova "has
reached the point of no return." Yugoslavia is holding a
controversial referendum on 23 April to ask if international
mediators should be involved in resolving the crisis in
Kosova. PB

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION SLAMS YUGOSLAVIA. The UN Human
Rights Commission approved a resolution on 22 April
condemning Serbian officials for violently repressing the
expression of political views in Kosova, Reuters reported.
The resolution was adopted by a 53-country grouping in
Geneva, although 12 countries, including Russia, abstained.
It said ethnic Albanians in Kosova have experienced
"harassment, beatings, brutality, torture, warrantless
searches, and unfair trials." It called for the withdrawal
of special Serbian police units from Kosova. The document
also called on Yugoslav authorities to capture indicted war
criminals. PB

ALBRIGHT PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR MONTENEGRO. U.S. Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright said Washington supports Montenegro
and will assist the Yugoslav republic in the event that
sanctions are imposed against Belgrade, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported in Washington on 22 April. Albright
made her comments before meeting with Montenegrin President
Milo Djukanovic, who is on a four-day U.S. visit. Albright
praised Montenegro's reforms and said she hoped "the spirit
of Montenegro" will extend throughout Yugoslavia. Djukanovic
said his government opposes extreme positions in Kosova. He
argued that the ethnic Albanians there need to have a say in
government but he ruled out independence. A third party is
needed to conduct discussions between Belgrade and the
Kosovar Albanian leadership, he added. PB

MONTENEGRO WANTS YUGOSLAV DEFENSE MINISTER TO RESIGN.
Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic called for the
dismissal of Yugoslav Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic after
the latter accused Montenegro of supporting terrorism in and
independence for the Serbian province of Kosova, AFP
reported on 22 April. Vujanovic said that Bulatovic, who is
Montenegrin, made the charges in a letter to Yugoslav Prime
Minister Radoje Kontic and that the comments were "political
manipulations." Bulatovic was a strong supporter of and is
related to former Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, who
lost a tense election last year. Vujanovic said Montenegro
condemns terrorism and supports a peaceful settlement of the
crisis in Kosova, which, he said, must remain part of
Yugoslavia. PB

UN PROSECUTOR WOULD SEEK LIFE SENTENCE FOR KARADZIC. Louise
Arbour, the chief prosecutor at the war crimes tribunal at
The Hague, said on 22 April that she will demand a life
sentence for former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic if
he is brought to face charges of genocide, AFP reported.
Arbour, speaking from Sarajevo, said the tribunal has enough
evidence to convict Karadzic. In Washington, senior U.S.
political and military officials said that an operation to
capture Karadzic was called off after French Major Herve
Gourmillon had clandestine meetings with Karadzic, "The
Washington Post" reported. French officials confirmed the
meetings took place and subsequently recalled Gourmillon
from Bosnia. U.S. officials said the incident seriously
damaged cooperation between the U.S. and French militaries
in Bosnia. PB

FORENSIC OFFICIALS SAY MASS GRAVE SITE DISTURBED.
International forensic experts exhuming a mass grave near
Brnice say the site has been tampered with. Kelly Moore, a
spokeswoman for the UN war crimes tribunal, said there is
evidence that objects have been removed from the site. She
stressed, however, that exhumation work will continue and
that, despite the tampering, "valuable evidence" has been
found. Hard-line Bosnian Serb officials previously refused
permission to officials from The Hague to investigate the
mass graves. In the southern Bosnian village of Pljesivica,
five Muslim houses were blown up, cantonal officials
reported on 22 April. The area is dominated by Bosnian
Croats. PB

GERMAN OFFICIAL WANTS SANCTIONS UNLESS ZAGREB COOPERATES ON
REFUGEES. Dietmar Schlee, Germany's chief of refugee
affairs, said on 22 April that Croatian President Franjo
Tudjman is not keeping a promise he made to allow Serbian
refugees back to their homes in the Krajina region, Reuters
reported. Schlee said that the international community can
no longer accept this and that "sanctions will soon be
needed." German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Erdmann
said it is too early to discuss sanctions but that the EU is
discussing ways of increasing pressure on Zagreb to allow
refugees to return. Schlee said that border guards are
obeying orders from Zagreb to turn back Serbs when they try
to enter Croatia. Some 200,000 Serbs fled Krajina ahead of
the advancing Croatian army in 1995 as it retook territory
captured by rebel Serbs. The UN High Commission for Refugees
says some 18,000 Serbs have returned to their homes. PB

ALBANIA RELEASES PYRAMID SCHEME CHIEF. A court in Tirana
released Vehbi Alimucaj, the head of Albania's largest
pyramid scheme, from house arrest on 22 April. Alimucaj is
the head of Vefa Holding, which reportedly defrauded
thousands of Albanians of some $300 million. The pyramid
scheme's collapse last year helped prompt riots that threw
the country into chaos. Alimucaj had been under house arrest
since February. No reason for his release was given.
Meanwhile, Albanian President Rexhep Meidani decreed that
local elections will be held 16 electoral districts on 21
June. It will be the first time local elections have been
held since 1996. Many areas of Albania are currently run by
self-appointed officials. PB

ROMANIA TO RENEGOTIATE IMF LOAN. Prime Minister Radu Vasile
on 22 April said he has invited IMF chief negotiator for
Romania Poul Thompsen to Bucharest on 26 April to re-
negotiate the terms of the IMF stand-by agreement, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. Vasile said the government has
restructured its budget and has a new program, which, he
said, means new negotiations are necessary. In February the
IMF suspended the release of a $86 million tranche from a
$430 million stand-by loan because of the slow progress
toward reform. Finance Minister Daniel Daianu said on 22
April that Romania may not be able to meet the loan's
conditions because of the recent political crisis and that a
new accord may have to be negotiated. MS

ROMANIAN PEASANT PARTY CHOOSES MAYORAL CANDIDATE. The
Bucharest leadership of the National Peasant Party Christian
Democratic (PNTCD) on 21 April elected Viorel Lis, the
acting mayor of Bucharest, as its candidate for the
Bucharest mayoralty. PNTCD chairman Ion Diaconescu said he
hoped to persuade other parties within the Democratic
Convention of Romania (CDR) to accept Lis as the CDR joint
candidate. The National Liberal Party, however, has decided
to nominate its own candidate, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. Also on 22 April, the Party of Social Democracy in
Romania failed to reach an agreement with the Greater
Romania Party and the Party of Romanian National Unity to
back its candidate, Sorin Oprescu. But the three parties,
together with the Socialist Labor Party, the Socialist
Party, and other smaller formations, have concluded a "non-
aggression pact" whereby they will refrain from mutual
attacks during the campaign. MS

ROMANIAN-FRENCH DEAL ON BLACK SEA OIL DRILLING. The French
company Elf Aquitaine and the Romanian oil company Petrom on
22 April signed an agreement to jointly explore for oil in
the Black Sea, AFP reported. The French company will
initially invest $15 million in seismic studies and trial
drilling. MS

DETAILS OF MOLDOVAN COALITION AGREEMENT REVEALED. The
center-right coalition agreement reached on 21 April in
Chisinau stipulates that the three signatories--For a
Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc (PMPD). the
Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM), and the Party of
Democratic Forces--will receive government representation
proportional to the number of votes they received in last
month's elections. At the same time, it states that for
every two portfolios given to the PMPD and the CDM, the
Party of Democratic Forces will receive one. The agreement
also stipulates that the PMPD will have the chairmanship of
the parliament and the premier will be a member of the CDM,
RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The agreement will be
declared void if those provisions cannot be implemented. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT AGAIN POSTPONES VOTE ON CHAIRMAN. The
parliament on 22 April again postponed electing its new
chairman, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The Communists
first requested a five-minute consultation pause and then
failed to return for the debates. Dumitru Diacov, who is the
candidate of the center-right coalition for the
chairmanship, told journalists that the Communists'
accusations that the alliance will adhere to the CDM's pro-
Romanian union principles are "groundless." He added that
the coalition reflects "national reconciliation" and will
allow the government to concentrate on continuing reforms
and raising living standards. MS

NATO INFORMATION CENTER OPENED IN SOFIA. Foreign Minister
Nadezhda Mihailova attended the formal opening of the NATO
information center in the Bulgarian capital on 22 April,
RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. The same day, an AWACS
surveillance aircraft carried out its first mission to
Bulgaria--a three-hour demonstration flight over Plodviv,
with 10 Bulgarian military officers on board. MS

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