|As courage endagers life even so fear preserves it. - Leonardo Da Vinci|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 80 Part II, 27 April 1998
___________________________________________________________ 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * KUCHMA INDICTS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OVER CHORNOBYL * CLASHES CONTINUE IN DECAN, ELSEWHERE IN KOSOVA * YUGOSLAV-ALBANIAN BORDER STILL TENSE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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. 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