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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 84 Part II, 4 May 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 84 Part II, 4 May 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 * HAVEL OUT OF INTENSIVE CARE * HEAVY FIGHTING NEAR KOSOVA-ALBANIA BORDER * CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTER DIES xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE MAY DAY DEMONSTRATORS IN UKRAINE CALL FOR USSR REVIVAL. Some 130,000 Communists and other leftists participated in May Day rallies in nearly 300 localities throughout Ukraine, Ukrainian media reported. At a 3,000-strong rally in Kyiv, Communist leader Petro Symonenko hailed the former Soviet Union and socialism and appealed "to fight against the capitalist way of life imposed on our people." The demonstrators called for Ukraine to join the Russia-Belarus Union and for the restoration of the USSR. In Donetsk, 20,000 demonstrators demanded President Leonid Kuchma's dismissal and branded government policies as "deeply anti- popular and anti-national." JM MOROZ THREATENS TO SEEK CABINET RESIGNATION. Oleksandr Moroz, leader of the Ukrainian Socialist Party and current parliamentary speaker, says the Socialists/Peasants bloc in the Supreme Council will insist that the government resign unless wage and pension arrears are paid, Interfax reported on 1 May. Moroz added that the government may have to resign even before parliament is reconvened because Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko has won a parliamentary seat and may give up the premiership to take up that seat. JM UKRAINIAN MINERS STRIKE AGAINST WAGE ARREARS. Miners at 30 coal mines in Ukraine refused to start work on 4 May to demand the payment of wage arrears and improved safety standards, dpa reported. A spokesman for the miners' trade union said most of Ukraine's 215 coal mines are likely to join the strike. The miners have also criticized the government's policy of increasing imports of less expensive coal from Poland and Russia instead of investing in Ukrainian coal pits. JM MAY DAY MARCHES IN MINSK. Some 7,000 people took part in a 1 May march in Minsk organized by city authorities, Belapan reported. According to Mikola Statkevich, leader of the opposition Belarusian Social Democratic Party, the authorities mobilized support for the rally at plants, institutions, and schools. Belapan interviewed a worker who said his plant administration promised him 100,000 rubles ($2) for participating in the rally. The official parade was trailed by some 600 people taking part in another authorized march organized by the opposition Social Democratic Party. That group chanted slogans against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and demanded freedom for political prisoners. Men in civilian garb arrested some 10 members of the Social Democratic Party, including Statkevich, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. JM EARLY ELECTIONS LOOM IN ESTONIA. Following a meeting between Prime Minister Mart Siimann and President Lennart Meri on 2 May, a government spokesman said the president will wait for all political parties to respond to the premier's proposal for early elections before he dissolves the parliament and calls a pre-term ballot. The same spokesman added that Siimann is finding it increasingly difficult to carry out his political program because of lack of support in the parliament. The premier has said that if various political parties in the parliament are against early elections, he will submit his resignation, ETA reported on 4 May. All three junior coalition parties have so far opposed an early vote. JC LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS TO DISPEL DISPUTE OVER MERI'S COMMENT. Valdas Adamkus has moved to quell a dispute over Estonian President Meri's recent statement about the introduction of visas for non-EU members once Tallinn joins the union. In response to a journalist's question early last week, Meri had admitted that if requested to do so by the EU, Estonia will require Latvian and Lithuanian citizens to have entry visas to enter the country. That comment prompted the Lithuanian government to issue a statement on 30 April slamming Estonia's behavior toward the other Baltic States as "arrogant." The following day, Adamkus told Lithuanian Radio he regretted that Meri had made such a statement but that "the Estonian president was fair in what he said." JC LATVIAN CABINET SURVIVES CONFIDENCE VOTE. Lawmakers on 30 April voted by 5O to zero with no abstentions to express confidence in the cabinet of Guntars Krasts, BNS reported. The Democratic Party Saimnieks, which recently quit the ruling coalition, did not take part in the vote. Two days later, at a congress of the Fatherland and Freedom party, Krasts warned that "excessively close economic links with Russia may pose a threat under certain circumstances." He added that Russian political pressure has "consolidated [Latvia's] right-wing parties for movement toward the EU and NATO." He also recognized that an important precondition for Latvia's accession to the EU is agreement on changes to the citizenship law. JC RESPONSES TO SENATE RATIFICATION OF NATO EXPANSION TREATY. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski on 1 May hailed the U.S. Senate's vote to ratify the NATO expansion treaty, which admits Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary to the alliance, as "great step on the historical way of overcoming the tragic past of our continent." Czech President Vaclav Havel, who is recovering in Austria from surgery (see below), said in a 1 May statement that the Senate vote is important in promoting close political and economic ties with Central European countries and contributing to a basis of new stability. (The previous day, the Czech Senate had voted 64 to three in favor of joining NATO.) Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn said the Senate's passage of the NATO expansion treaty was recognition of the progress Hungary has made and of the country's stability. PB/JM RIGHTISTS ATTACK LEFT-WING MAY DAY PARADE IN WARSAW. Right- wing youths from the Republican League and skinheads from the National Rebirth of Poland threw egg and shouted insults at a 1 May parade in Warsaw organized by various left-wing groups, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported. Some 3,000 members of the Democratic Left Alliance, the OPZZ trade unions, and the Polish Socialist Party took part in the parade. Similar clashes took place during May Day parades in Poznan, Gdansk, and Krakow. JM HAVEL OUT OF INTENSIVE CARE. Czech President Havel was taken out of intensive care on 2 May and is expected to be flown back to Prague on 6 May. He is reported to be resuming some official work in an Innsbruck hospital. Havel recently underwent three operations and was kept in a sedated state for nearly a week after suffering from an abdominal abscess while on vacation. PB CONSTRUCTION ON CONTROVERSIAL CZECH NUCLEAR PLANT TO CONTINUE. Karel Kuhnl, Czech minister of industry and trade, said the Temelin nuclear power plant will be completed because it would cost nearly as much to stop construction as to complete it, Reuters reported on 30 April. Kuhnl said some 63 billion crowns ($1.9 billion) has already been spent on the project and that costs could reach 100 billion crowns before it is operational in about two years. Environmentalists and the Austrian government have urged the Czech government to halt construction on the plant, which is a hybrid of Soviet and Western designs. PB SLOVAKIA STILL WITHOUT PRESIDENT AFTER SIXTH FAILED VOTE. The parliament on 30 April failed to elect a president, RFE/RL's Slovak Service reported. Milan Secansky of the governing Movement for a Democratic Slovakia received 72 votes, 18 shy of the three-fifths majority needed to be elected. Brigita Schmoegnerova of the Party of the Democratic Left received 47 votes. It was the sixth attempt by the parliament to elect a president since Michal Kovacs's term ended in early March. Parliamentary speaker Ivan Gasparovic said the legislature will vote for a seventh time on 29 May. In accordance with the constitution, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar has assumed many of the president's powers. PB BOMB EXPLODES AT OPPOSITION LEADER'S HOME IN BUDAPEST. The apartment of Jozsef Szajer, deputy chairman of the opposition Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP), was badly damaged by a bomb blast on 2 May. Szajer and his family were away at the time of the explosion. It was the third time a bomb has exploded or been found near the home of an opposition politician since March. No arrests have been made in connection with any of those incidents. The 2 May attack has been condemned by all parties. Prime Minister Horn said it is "dishonorable" to infer that such an attack would serve the interests of any of the political parties ahead of the 10 May elections. The FIDESZ-MPP is running a close second behind Horn's Socialist Party in all opinion polls. PB SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE HEAVY FIGHTING NEAR KOSOVA-ALBANIA BORDER. Albanian military sources and observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported from the northern Albanian border town of Qafe e Morines near Bajram Curri on 3 May that they heard the fire of rifles, automatic weapons, mortars, and artillery from the Kosovar town of Ponoshec. "The Serbs said it was an attack on a police station," OSCE ambassador Daan Everts told Reuters. "There must have been heavy retaliation." Italian military attache Colonel Sergio Russo commented, adding that "things look dangerous in this part of the border. The Albanians report a build-up of Serbian military units." Other Albanian sources added that houses were on fire. Serbian police officials said that five of their men were wounded. Three Kosovars were killed and three wounded in the Drenica area the previous day. PM ALBANIA CALLS FOR ARMY VOLUNTEERS. The National Defense Council on 1 May announced it will recruit 1,000 volunteers into the army. The new troops will help border security units in northern Albania prevent arms smuggling and illegal border crossings, "Koha Jone" reported. The volunteers will receive monthly salaries of up to $220. The average Albanian monthly income is about $65. Meanwhile in Kukes, the OSCE unofficially opened an office on 3 May to help monitor that part of the border region. Last month, the organization opened an office in Bajram Curri, to the north of Kukes. FS STRONGER 'FIRE WALL' FOR MACEDONIA. A British Defense Ministry spokesman on 2 May said that British troops will go to the Macedonian-Kosovar border as part of an international "fire wall" to prevent the Kosovar conflict from spilling over into Macedonia, "The Sunday Telegraph" reported. "We are interested in greater cooperation with Macedonia and Albania. This is our effort to contribute to increased security and stability in the region," the spokesman said. The British units will join U.S. and Scandinavian soldiers already serving with the UN forces there (UNPREDEP), which is the first mission in UN history aimed at conflict prevention rather than at peacekeeping after a war. Senior British army officials told the newspaper that they expect the enterprise will become a Bosnia-type NATO mission within one year. PM U.S. WARNS MILOSEVIC. A State Department spokesman on 30 April said that the latest sanctions against Serbia, including the freeze on foreign investments slated to take effect on 9 May, will have a "chilling effect" on Yugoslavia's economy. The spokesman added that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic may soon face the breakup of rump Yugoslavia as a result: "having successfully presided over the amputation of former Yugoslavia..., he's setting himself up for further successes of this nature unless he reverses course." The spokesman also said that the Contact Group's recent decisions affecting its relations with Belgrade contain incentives as well as punitive measures (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 April 1998). PM MORE CRITICISM OF MILOSEVIC'S TELEVISION STATION. Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Vojin Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 1 May that he and federal Prime Minister Radoje Kontic have not received an official answer from the Belgrade authorities as to who is behind Milosevic's new Yugoslav Television (RTJ). Djukanovic added that RTJ is not a federal broadcasting station but "the project of one group of citizens," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The Montenegrin authorities refuse to rebroadcast the signals of the new station, which most observers regard as Milosevic's vehicle to bring his views to Montenegro (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report," 29 April 1998). PM WARNINGS FOR HERZEGOVINIAN CROATS. Bosnian Foreign Minister Jadranko Prlic, a Croat, warned extreme nationalists in Drvar on 2 May to stop attacking Serbs and their property because "the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot survive amid chaos." The previous day, the international community's Carlos Westendorp threatened the nationalists with unspecified measures to prevent further ethnic clashes. Kresimir Zubak, who is the Croatian member of the joint presidency, also recently warned the extremists in Drvar to end the violence (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report, 29 April 1998). PM CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTER DIES. Gojko Susak has died aged 53 after a long battle with lung cancer, Hina reported on 4 May. Susak was the leader of the hard-line Herzegovinian Croats, who hold many key positions in Zagreb, and helped fund President Franjo Tudjman's rise to power in the late 1980s. Many observers regarded Susak as the second most powerful man in Croatia. During the war of 1991-1995, he helped mastermind the development of the army, which led to its eventual victory over Serbian rebels. It is unclear who will succeed him as leader of the Herzegovinians. PM TUDJMAN AIDE QUITS. Hrvoje Sarinic, until now the head of President Franjo Tudjman's office and one of the most influential men in Croatia, has quit his post at the presidential palace, "Jutarnji list" reported on 4 May. He gave no reason for his decision, but the Zagreb daily suggested it is in protest against the continued involvement of some of his colleagues from the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) in an ongoing banking scandal. The daily added that the person most likely to benefit politically from Sarinic's resignation is Ivic Pasalic, who is Tudjman's chief domestic affairs adviser. Several leading opposition politicians told "Vecernji list" that the resignation is evidence of deep splits in the HDZ. PM ARGENTINE POLICE ARREST SAKIC. Police in Buenos Aires on 1 May arrested Dinko Sakic, who was a commander at the World War II Croatian concentration camp at Jasenovac. Police spokesmen say he will be extradited to Croatia later this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 April 1998). Sakic, who is 76 and has lived in Argentina since the end of World War II, drew attention to himself by telling Argentine television last month that he was a commander at the camp and that he is proud of himself. He added that "all that we did in the war was in the interest of Croatia and the Christian world. My only regret is that we did not do all the things of which we have been accused," "Die Presse" reported on 27 April. The Serbian authorities say Sakic is a mass murderer. PM ACCUSED CIGARETTE-SMUGGLING RINGLEADER ARRESTED IN ROMANIA. Colonel Gheorghe Trutulescu has been arrested on suspicion of masterminding a lucrative cigarette smuggling scheme that has led to resignations in the government, AFP reported on 3 May. Trutulescu was detained in Arad, northwest of Bucharest, after becoming a fugitive. On 30 April, General Ion Dohotaru, the chief of military counter-intelligence, and General Mihai Marin Stan of the State Security Service became the latest military officials to be dismissed, Mediafax reported. President Emil Constantinescu said the two should be held accountable for the actions of persons under their command who are thought to be involved in the affair. PB MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT ACCEPTS CABINET'S RESIGNATION. In accordance with constitutional provisions, Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc's cabinet formerly submitted its resignation to the new parliament on 30 April, RFE/RL reported. The legislature accepted the resignation. Valentin Dolganciuc, a member of the Christian Democratic Popular Front, is premier-designate and is awaiting approval from President Petru Lucinschi (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 April 1998). The new cabinet is expected to be formed this week. Ciubuc said that despite the dreary economic situation in the country, his government can take the credit for some positive developments, including the halt in the decline of industrial output. PB BULGARIAN SOCIALIST LEADER CALLS FOR LEFTIST COALITION. Georgi Parvanov, leader of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, said on 1 May that the party is in a "state of crisis" and should form a coalition with other leftist parties, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Parvanov, who was speaking at a Socialist congress, said the party's current state can largely be blamed on former Socialist Prime Minister Zhan Videnov's lack of "adequate and pragmatic policies." The Socialists hold the second- largest number of seats in the parliament, but the party's membership numbers and reputation severely suffered after it stepped down from power amid mass protests last year. PB BULGARIAN POLITICIANS TO GIVE UP BUSINESS POSTS. Prime Minister Ivan Kostov has ordered politicians serving on the boards of state-owned firms to step down, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported on 2 May. Kostov's action comes on the heels of criticism by Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov, who said such boards have become "hidden sources of income" for politicians. The opposition has accused the governing Union of Democratic Forces of allowing relatives and party loyalists to serve on those boards. Kostov also ordered a special commission to find competent people to fill the positions vacated by politicians and their appointees. PB xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word "subscribe" as the subject or body of the message. 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