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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 80 Part II, 27 April 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 80 Part II, 27 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

* KUCHMA INDICTS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OVER CHORNOBYL

* CLASHES CONTINUE IN DECAN, ELSEWHERE IN KOSOVA

* YUGOSLAV-ALBANIAN BORDER STILL TENSE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

KUCHMA INDICTS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OVER CHORNOBYL. On
the 12th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster,
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma accused the international
community of failing to meet promises of aid needed to close
down the plant, AFP reported on 26 April. Kuchma reproached
the G-7 for delaying the payment of $3.1 billion through the
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The
West objects to that payment because Ukraine wants to use
international funds to complete the construction of two new
nuclear reactors in order to compensate for the loss of
power from the Chornobyl plant. Ukraine has recently asked
Russian banks for credits to achieve this goal. "We have
reached agreement with Russia on completing the projects,
otherwise we would have to wait another 10 years for the
EBRD to fulfill its pledges," AFP quoted Kuchma as saying.
JM

CHORNOBYL ANNIVERSARY RALLY PROTESTS LUKASHENKA'S REGIME...
Some 7,000 people marched in downtown Minsk on 25 April to
mark the 12th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster.
The marchers, led by opposition politicians, shouted slogans
against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime and
demanded freedom for imprisoned opposition activists. They
also demanded that Lukashenka be dismissed for "malicious
disregard of the deadly danger of the Chornobyl catastrophe,
economic collapse, and deliberate devastation of the
national culture," Belapan reported. The police detained
some 30 protesters, including 17 members of the Russian
Anti-Fascist Youth Movement who came from Moscow to take
part in the rally, ITAR-TASS reported. The next day. the
police released all the Russian detainees and deported them
on a night train to Moscow. JM

YOUNG OPPOSITIONIST REQUESTS ASYLUM IN POLAND... Yas
Abadouski, an 18-year-old member of the opposition
Belarusian Popular Front (BNF), has asked for political
asylum in Poland, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service and "Svaboda"
reported. Abadouski had gone to Poland with his father to
apply for college there; he was expelled earlier this year
from a technical university in Mahilyou for political
activism. Over the past two months, he has been repeatedly
arrested and tried. Most recently, he was sentenced to 15
days in prison for participating in the 2 April rally
protesting the Russia-Belarus union. JM

...WHILE ANOTHER RECEIVES 10-DAY SENTENCE IN BELARUS. Vadzim
Kanapadski, a 22-year-old BNF member, was arrested on 23
April and sentenced to 10 days in prison for disturbance of
the peace during a demonstration that took place last month,
RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The court had heard
testimony from two police officers and had not allowed any
witnesses for the defense. JM

BALTIC ASSEMBLY BACKS LATVIA IN DISPUTE WITH MOSCOW. The
Presidium of the Baltic Assembly, which is composed of
representatives of the three Baltic parliaments, issued a
declaration on 24 April condemning Russia's "open political
and economic pressure on Latvia" and supporting Riga's
attempts to normalize the situation, BNS and ETA reported.
The Presidium also expressed "special concern over the
campaign by some Russian regional leaders against Latvia,
which can jeopardize normal relations between the citizens
of the two neighboring countries for a long time." The
previous day, Hans van den Broek, the EU commissioner for
external relations, met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Aleksandr Avdeev in Brussels and advised Russia not to use
trade and economic sanctions against Latvia. Van den Broek
reportedly told Avdeev that such measures would not
contribute to the integration of ethnic Russians into
Latvian society. JC

FATHERLAND AND FREEDOM TO SUPPORT GOVERNMENT. Ahead of the
confidence vote in Guntars Krasts's cabinet later this week,
the Fatherland and Freedom faction in the parliament voted
on 25 April to back the premier, "Diena" reported. The
party, of which Krasts is a member, also voted to back the
government's stance on amendments to the citizenship law. At
the same time, it linked any easing of citizenship
requirements for children born to non-Latvians since
independence to those children being given the opportunity
to learn Latvian. JC

NEW POLITICAL PARTY FORMED IN LITHUANIA. Arturas Paulauskas,
whom Valdas Adamkus narrowly beat in the recent presidential
elections, has formed the New Union party, ITAR-TASS
reported on 26 April. Paulauskas, who is also chairman of
the party, said the new formation's goal is to "build up a
strong opposition to the present regime, because only a
strong opposition can help 'the powers that be' to avoid
mistakes." The program of the New Union is based on the
left-centrist platform that Paulauskas espoused in the
presidential race, according to the Russian news agency. JC

POLISH COALITION PARTY DEMANDS ELECTION PROGRAM BE
FULFILLED. The Confederation for an Independent Poland-
Patriotic Camp, one of the parties that belongs to
Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), has demanded that the
government carry out the Solidarity election program, "Zycie
Warszawy" reported on 27 April. The party believes that the
government is currently implementing policies of the Freedom
Union, the AWS's main partner in the ruling coalition. The
confederation is threatening to withdraw from the AWS unless
its demand is met. JM

HAVEL UNDERGOES SURGERY AGAIN. Doctors at the Innsbruck
University Clinic performed a tracheotomy on Czech President
Vaclav Havel on 24 April, several hours after he was taken
off a respirator. They later said they are "satisfied" with
the state of his health and that the tracheotomy was a
"routine operation" performed in order to assist breathing.
The tracheotomy tube inserted in Havel's throat will be
replaced in a few days with another tube that will allow him
to speak. MS

CZECH, GERMAN OFFICIALS DISCUSS TRIAL OF WAR CRIMES SUSPECT.
Justice Minister Vlasta Parkanova and Klaus Schacht, head of
the German Central Bureau for Prosecution of Nazi Crimes,
discussed in Prague on 24 April the possibility of bringing
to justice a former Nazi SS officer suspected of murdering
inmates in the Terezin concentration camp, CTK reported. The
suspect, Anton Malloth, is now 86 and was condemned to death
by a Czech court in 1948. He managed to flee to Italy and
acquired Italian, then German citizenship. Parkanova said
the Austrian-born Malloth illegally obtained his German
citizenship and that the German authorities are "willing to
look into the matter." He added that Italian authorities
have expressed a similar willingness. MS

MECIAR ON NATO MEMBERSHIP... Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar
told a congress of his Movement for a Democratic Slovakia
(HZDS) in Kosice on 25 April that Slovakia wants to join
NATO but that membership in the alliance should be approved
in a referendum after Bratislava receives an invitation to
join. This is the first time that Meciar has mentioned a
referendum on NATO membership. His coalition partner, the
Slovak National Party, has recently launched a petition for
Slovak neutrality. Meciar also criticized U.S. ambassador to
Bratislava Ralph Johnson for treating Slovakia like "a
banana republic." The criticism followed Johnson's
attendance of an anti-government trade union rally. MS

...AND BISHOPS' LETTER. Meciar went on to say that the
recent letter by nine bishops criticizing his government
cannot be considered to represent the views of the Catholic
Church as a whole since it was endorsed neither by Cardinal
Jan Chryzostom Korec nor by Archbishop Jan Sokol (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 24 April 1998). He added that the
bishops' appeal did "not create a positive atmosphere" for
talks between the Slovak government and the Vatican,
RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. On 26 April, the HZDS
congress re-elected Meciar party chairman. MS

HUNGARY TO HONOR PRE-WWII BONDS. Hungary will repay loans
stemming from bonds issued by Hungary before World War II,
"Magyar Hirlap" reported. Repayments to some $4 million to
bondholders will take place over the next 20-30 years. In an
advertisement published last week in the "Financial Times,"
Hungary offered to redeem bonds worth some 69,000 British
pounds. Holders of those bonds will receive a 2.75 percent
annual interest rate and the bonds will be redeemed at 110
percent of their face value. Dollar-denominated bonds will
be reimbursed until 2027 and sterling-denominated bonds
until 2017. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CLASHES CONTINUE IN DECAN... Serbian paramilitary police and
the Yugoslav army clashed at least three times with ethnic
Albanian Kosovars in the Decan and Gjakova regions near the
Albanian border between 23 and 27 April. The Kosovar news
agency KIC says the Serbian forces used helicopter gunships
and heavy weapons to attack villagers and killed at least
19. Serbian media report that the security forces routed
several hundred armed guerrillas and weapons smugglers who
had entered Yugoslavia from Albania. "The Times" wrote on 27
April that villagers in Koshara said that Yugoslav troops
routed 200 "teenage gunrunners" on 23 April. The daily added
that some Yugoslav troops, especially those from Montenegro,
abandoned their uniforms or deliberately let young Kosovars
escape the dragnet. PM

...AND ELSEWHERE IN KOSOVA. Kosovar media reported that
Serbian forces on 25 April shelled a village in the Drenica
area, where the crackdown began at the end of February.
Serbian media stated that masked gunmen wounded a policeman
in Kijeva on 25 April and injured two more in southwestern
Kosova two days later. There is no independent confirmation
available on most of the Serbian and Kosovar reports, which
contradict one another on several key points. In Washington,
a State Department spokesman said on 24 April that the U.S.
is preparing to impose new sanctions on Belgrade unless
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic launches serious
negotiations with the Kosovars about the province's future.
PM

NANO SAYS KOSOVAR STRUGGLE IS 'SELF DEFENSE.' Albanian Prime
Minister Fatos Nano said on state-run television on 26 April
that the Kosovars' armed resistance is an "act of self-
defense in response to long-standing and pathological
violence by the Serbian authorities.... Continuous Serbian
violence has increased the indignation and hatred of the
Albanians against the terrorist policies of Milosevic," he
added. Kosova, the prime minister continued, "has become a
priority for Albanian diplomacy... our police, army, secret
services, in short, for us all.... We should work without
becoming excessively nationalist..., but we should defend
our national interests. We hope very much for active
international support for Kosova, but we should remember
that the [international Contact Group] is not united on the
issue." PM

YUGOSLAV-ALBANIAN BORDER STILL TENSE. Albanian General
Kudusi Lama told state-run television on 26 April that the
border region with Yugoslavia remains quiet but tense. He
added that large Yugoslav army formations are positioned
only 200 meters from the Albanian frontier in some areas and
the Albanian army is on a state of maximum alert. The
previous day, the Albanian Foreign Ministry said in a
statement that recent "border incidents claimed by the
Belgrade government are totally untrue.... There has been no
traffic of arms or men from Albanian territory into
Yugoslavia." Albanian media suggested that the Yugoslav
authorities staged the alleged incidents of arms smuggling
as part of an ongoing campaign aimed at intimidating Tirana.
PM

ALBANIAN POLICE THREATEN TO EXPEL KOSOVARS. Unnamed
officials of the Albanian Secret Service (SHIK) told "Koha
Jone" on 25 April that they ordered a group of some 1,000
immigrants from Kosova either to register as refugees or
return to Kosova unarmed. They threatened to hand the
refugees over to the federal Yugoslav authorities if the
latter rejected those options. The officials added that the
group arrived in the northern Albanian city of Tropoja last
week and "requested arms [from local officials] to fight"
against Serbian police forces in Kosova. SHIK estimates that
by 26 April, some 80 percent of the members of the group had
returned, "Koha Jone" reported. Only 22 refugees from Kosova
are officially registered in Albania. Recently arrived
refugees told "Koha Jone" that they saw Kosova Liberation
Army fighters hiding in the Has mountains, but they gave no
further details. FS

DOUBTS ON SERBIAN REFERENDUM. On 25 April, a spokesman for
the opposition Belgrade Center for Free Elections and
Democracy questioned the official figure of 73 percent
turnout in the referendum two days earlier against foreign
mediation in Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 April 1998).
The spokesman noted that ethnic Serbs make up only 63
percent of Serbia's population and that the leaders of most
ethnic minority political organizations had called for a
boycott of the vote, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Belgrade. Meanwhile in Skopje, Macedonian Defense Minister
Lazar Kitanovski and his Greek counterpart, Akis
Tsochatzopoulos, agreed on unspecified joint military
measures aimed at promoting regional stability should the
Kosova crisis intensify. PM

ETHNIC CLASHES ROCK BOSNIA. Bosnian Serb and Muslim crowds
blocked the road linking Muslim-held Tuzla with Serb-
controlled Doboj on 27 April. The previous day, a grenade
attack wounded at least five Serbs in the inter-entity
border region through which the road passes. Following the
incident, Serbs stoned Muslims, injuring three. Elsewhere,
some 200 Bosnian Serb refugees arrived in Banja Luka from
Croatian-held Drvar, where the Serbs recently returned to
their homes. Well-organized Croatian mobs have been
intimidating the Serbs since their return and recently
burned some Serbian homes. Meanwhile in the Derventa area on
25 April, Bosnian Serb crowds blocked the road to busses
carrying Croatian refugees to a Mass near their former homes
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 April 1998). PM

SLOVENIAN COURT SENTENCES JOURNALIST. The Ljubljana regional
court gave a one-month suspended sentence to Bostjan Celec
on 24 April. The court ruled that Celec had damaged the
reputation and integrity of a Maribor politician by
suggesting in an article last year that the politician was
responsible for his wife's death and for forcing his son out
of the house. PM

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT APPROVES NEW CABINET. Rexhep Meidani on
25 April approved the final members of the new cabinet
proposed by Prime Minister Fatos Nano earlier this month.
Meidani had delayed approving Defense Minister Luan
Hajdaraga and Culture Minister Edi Rama until the
resignation of their predecessors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17
April 1998). Meidani also appointed Sabit Brokaj, who was
Hajdaraga's predecessor, as his own military adviser. In a
statement explaining his resignation as defense minister,
Brokaj accused Nano on 24 April of having "neglected the
country's defense at a time when Serbian troops are getting
close to the Albanian borders." Rama's predecessor,
Socialist deputy Arta Dade, also criticized Nano and
threatened to bring a no-confidence vote against the prime
minister, "Koha Jone" reported. FS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT EXPLAINS CIGARETTE SMUGGLING AFFAIR...
President Emil Constantinescu said after a 25 April meeting
of the Supreme National Defense Council that the recent
"cigarette-smuggling affair" resulted from a "trap" set up
by those "responsible for the struggle against corruption."
Earlier this month, a Ukrainian-chartered Bulgarian air
plane unloaded a large transport of smuggled cigarettes at
Bucharest's military airport. Constantinescu said the trap
was a result of "long investigations" by the Romanian
Intelligence Service. He added that the Prosecutor-General's
Office is now investigating several high-ranking officers,
including a colonel of the Special Protection Guard. On 26
April, he commander of the military airport was detained for
five days. MS

...WHILE TUDOR, OTHER DEPUTIES TO BE INVESTIGATED. The
Supreme National Defense Council on 25 April ordered the
Prosecutor-General's Office to launch investigations into
Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the leader of the Greater Romania
Party (PRM), and another 15 PRM deputies. At a press
conference the previous day, Tudor announced that the
deputies have sent several Euro-Atlantic organizations a
memorandum claiming that Romania is led by "mafia-like
organizations" and that the president and other officials
are involved in the cigarette-smuggling affair and other
organized criminal activities. Tudor claimed Constantinescu
had received a $2 million bribe for his involvement in the
cigarette-smuggling and other affairs and that the money is
to be used to finance his presidential campaign in the year
2000. MS

FUNAR SETS UP OWN PARTY. Gheorghe Funar, the nationalist
mayor of Cluj, on 25 April launched the Alliance for the
Unity of Romanians (AUR). Some 600 delegates attended the
Cluj congress of the new political formation, most of whose
members left the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR)
after its leadership expelled Funar last year. Three
deputies and one senator from the PUNR have joined the
formation. PUNR leader Valeriu Tabara said he will contest
in court Funar's right to use that name. In 1990, the PUNR
joined an electoral alliance with the Republican Party,
which was called the AUR. MS

BULGARIANS PROTEST TOWN'S RENAMING. For the third day in a
row, protesters on 24 April blocked the main road to the
border town of Vidin to protest President Petar Stoyanov's
decree giving the small northern town of Pelovo the new name
of Iskar. Stoyanov has refused to reconsider that decision,
noting that Pelovo was named after the local communist Pelo
Pelov, who is known to have been associated with the
political purges that followed the communist takeover.
Stoyanov said towns and villages in Bulgaria must no longer
carry the names of "people responsible for the division of
the nation," RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. The opposition
Socialist Party organized the protest in Vidin. The ruling
Union of Democratic Forces (ODS) has also proposed changing
the name of Dimitrovgrad, which is named after communist
leader Georgi Dimitrov. MS

BULGARIAN SOCIALIST PARTY LOSES MEMBERS. Some 11,000 people
in Sofia alone have recently left the opposition Socialist
Party, party leader Nikola Koichev told journalists on 24
April. Koichev said the Socialist Party branch in the
capital now has 39,000 members. He attributed its dwindling
membership to "lack of motivation" and "the easy way the
party gave up power" in 1997, an RFE/RL correspondent in
Sofia reported. According to figures released by the party,
the Socialists have lost some 42,000 members nationwide
since 1994, although they remain the largest party in
Bulgaria. The ODS last month announced it has set a target
of 80,000 members. On 25 April, the Union of People
Persecuted Under Communism announced that it plans to
formally join the ODS. MS


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