The only thing one knows about human nature is that it changes. - Oscar Wilde
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 86 Part II, 6 May 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 86  Part II, 6 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

* MINERS' STRIKE WIDENS IN UKRAINE

* MILOSEVIC TO ACCEPT GONZALEZ?

* MONTENEGRO SLAMS MILITARY ACTION IN KOSOVA

End Note: THE DILEMMA OF THE CZECH PRESIDENCY

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

MINERS' STRIKE WIDENS IN UKRAINE. The independent trade
union of coal miners says that a strike launched by coal
miners on 4 May has expanded to 39 sites, Ukrainian
Television reported on 5 May. The miners demand to be paid
back wages, and also reinstatement of wages and pensions to
the level of 1990, when the coal mining was the second best-
paid industry in Ukraine. Coal mining since has dropped to
17th place. JM

KUCHMA SAYS CHORNOBYL MAY NOT CLOSE IN 2000. The Ukrainian
president said on 5 May that the Chornobyl power plant will
not be closed in 2000 unless Ukraine finds funds for
completing two reactors currently under construction at the
Rivne and Khmelnytskyy nuclear power plants to compensate
for the power supply loss, AFP reported. Ukraine committed
itself in 1995 to shut down the Chornobyl plant in 2000 in
return for financial aid promised by the G-7, but recently
has accused the group of failing to honor the pledge. JM

SELEZNEV SATISFIED WITH SESSION OF RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN
LEGISLATURE. Gennadii Seleznev, speaker of the Russian State
Duma and chairman of the Russian-Belarusian Union
Parliamentary Assembly, has said he is satisfied with the
assembly's session held in Homel on 4-5 March, Belapan and
ITAR-TASS reported. Seleznev called the Parliamentary
Assembly a "driving engine" of the union. The session
adopted a law on drafting the union's budget and a document
recommending the transformation of the Parliamentary
Assembly into a legislative body elected directly by
citizens of the Russian-Belarusian Union. JM

OPPOSITION YOUTH MARCH IN MINSK ENDS IN ARRESTS. A group of
some 150 members of the Youth Front opposition organization
staged an authorized march in Minsk on 5 May in protest
against the detention of two young opposition activists,
Belapan reported. The marchers demanded freedom for their
leader, Pavel Sevyarynets, arrested for his participation in
a rally against the Belarusian-Russian Union, and Alyaksey
Shydlouski, sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for anti-
Lukashenka graffiti. Reuters reported that the police
arrested over 10 protesters after the march. JM

LUKASHENKA DENIES CURBING MEDIA. The Belarusian president
told a forum of CIS journalists gathered in Minsk on 5 May
that the state "has never set the task of trimming the
media," Belapan reported. He added that he likes diversity
of opinions in the media. Touching upon the government's
directive forbidding state officials to pass information to
independent media and buy advertizing space in them,
Lukashenka said the instruction should have been passed
orally instead of in writing. "It was done grossly:
correctly in content, but grossly in form," Belapan quoted
the president as saying. JM

U.S. TELLS ESTONIA NATO EXPANSION STILL OPEN. The principal
deputy assistant secretary of defense for international
security affairs, Frederick C. Smith, told Estonian
officials in Tallinn on 5 May that it was the American view
that NATO expansion should continue beyond the first round,
BNS reported. But in comments to reporters, Smith
acknowledged that Washington is not in a position to
determine by itself when or even if this will take place.
Meanwhile, Estonian officials announced that their country
will participate in three NATO exercises later this year. PG

POLAND TO REDUCE MILITARY SERVICE TO 12 MONTHS. Polish
Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz said on 5 May that the
government wants to reduce compulsory military service from
18 to 12 months to comply with NATO requirements, "Zycie
Warszawy" reported. The shorter term is to be introduced
with the1999 spring draft. Onyszkiewicz said it may take 10
years for the Polish Armed Forces to reach NATO's other
standards, AFP reported. A modernization program for the
army envisions reducing its personnel from 242,000 to
180,000. JM

DAILY ACCUSES HAVEL OF STAGING GOVERNMENT CRISIS. "Pravo"
reported on 5 May that President Vaclav Havel and former
Interior Minister Jan Ruml conspired to bring down the
government of former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. Havel
spokesman Ladislav Spacek called the report "utter nonsense"
and said Havel had never conspired against anyone. The left-
wing daily said it has the minutes of a meeting between
Havel and Ruml last September in which they agreed to
discredit Klaus in an effort to force his resignation.
Social Democratic Party leader Milos Zeman said on 4 May
that he also has documents that prove Ruml was involved in a
plot to force out Klaus. Ruml left Klaus's Civic Democratic
Party last year and formed the rival party Freedom Union.
Ruml denied the accusations and called Zeman a "paranoiac."
PB

PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR JOINING NATO, EU INCREASES IN SLOVAKIA. A
poll published on 5 May shows an increase in public support
for Slovakia's entry into the European Union and NATO,
Reuters reported. The survey, done by the Public Affairs
Institute, showed 79 percent of respondents favored joining
the EU, up from 74 percent in a similar poll taken in
October. Some 58 percent supported joining NATO, an increase
of 7 percent. The poll showed that support for joining
Western organizations was highest among people who backed
opposition political parties. In Bonn, Augustin Marian
Huska, vice president of the parliament in Bratislava, said
Slovakia was pursuing a "shadow strategy" but would meet all
terms needed for accession to the EU. He predicted Slovakia
would join between 2004 and 2006. The right-wing Slovak
National Party, a member of the governing coalition,
recently began a petition drive aimed at declaring Slovakia
a neutral state. PB

HUNGARIAN POLLSTER CITED FOR POSTING SURVEY ON WEB.
Hungary's National Elections Committee accused a polling
organization on 5 May of violating the country's electoral
law. Gallup Hungary published the results of an opinion poll
for the 10 May elections on its World Wide Web home page
(www.gallup.hu) on 4 May. Electoral law prohibits the
publication of opinion surveys eight days before an
election. Robert Manchin, the director of Gallup Hungary,
said his company is aware of the law and doesn't believe it
was violated. The committee has vowed to prosecute Gallup
Hungary if the poll remains on the Internet site. PB

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MILOSEVIC TO ACCEPT GONZALEZ? Russian Deputy Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov said in Belgrade on 5 May that
international mediation will be needed to launch a dialogue
between Belgrade and the Kosova leadership because there is
no trust between the two sides. Ivanov told Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic of President Boris Yeltsin's
wish that Serbian-Kosova talks begin as soon as possible,
Reuters reported. The news agency quoted Ivanov as saying
that a foreign mediator would not be interfering in Serbia's
affairs but simply providing "a helping hand." Euro News
reported the next day that Ivanov's visit may lead to
Milosevic's accepting former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe
Gonzalez as international mediator for Kosova. Milosevic has
opposed foreign mediation, but he may now be seeking a face-
saving way to accept Gonzalez in hopes of avoiding new
sanctions. Milosevic accepted and then ignored numerous
international mediators during the Croatian and Bosnian
wars. PM

PRIMAKOV STICKS TO TOUGH LINE. Russian Foreign Minister
Yevgenii Primakov said in Strasbourg on 5 May that "home
rule, autonomy of Kosova must come about but in the
framework of Serbia, otherwise a great war will start, and
we want no part in pushing the events towards this. Even
making Kosova a [distinct federal] entity within Yugoslavia,
which would then consist of three republics, would lead to
war, but we will never agree to this," Interfax reported.
Primakov chided "certain Western countries" for dividing
terrorists in Kosova "into goodies and baddies," by which he
presumably meant that some Westerners are more critical of
the Serbian paramilitary police than they are of the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK). Primakov praised German Foreign
Minister Klaus Kinkel for taking a tough line against
"Albanian terrorism." PM

MONTENEGRO SLAMS MILITARY ACTION IN KOSOVA. President Milo
Djukanovic told reporters in Podgorica on 5 May that "if
there is no dialogue in Kosova, the situation will get more
complicated, and the alternative to such dialogue is war,
which does not suit anyone intelligent in the country and
abroad." He stressed that Montenegro "will do all it can to
prevent conflicts and find a peaceful solution." Djukanovic
warned that if the Yugoslav army becomes "involved in the
conflict in any way, Montenegro will demand that soldiers
from Montenegro not be sent to the province." PM

ALBANIA SAYS SERBIA CONDUCTING 'ETHNIC CLEANSING.' The
Foreign Ministry said in a statement on 5 May that "even in
the past few days, Serbian police forces backed by the army
and, what is worse, by radical ultra-nationalist
paramilitary troops, are continuing their military
operations of ethnic cleansing in Kosova. The violence by
police and the military is accompanied by massive bombings
and destruction of population centers, applying in Kosova
the Serbian scorched-earth strategy" that Milosevic's forces
used in the Croatian and Bosnian wars. Tirana also condemned
the Yugoslav military buildup along the Serbian border with
Albania, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

HAGUE COURT MONITORING KOSOVA. Graham Blewitt, who is a
deputy prosecutor at the Hague-based war crimes tribunal,
said on 5 May that the court is "continuing to monitor what
is happening" in Kosova. British Attorney General John
Morris added that London is "of course impressed and
grateful for the prosecutor's ready acceptance of the new
challenge of investigating the recent events in Kosova. The
U.K. hopes to be able to provide at least one member of the
new investigating team that you are setting up to meet that
challenge." Tribunal officials formally opened that body's
second courtroom, which was constructed with U.S.
assistance. PM

PROTEST MARCH IN SKOPJE. Several thousand ethnic Albanians
staged a protest in the Macedonian capital on 5 May to
demand the release from prison of Rufi Osmani, the mayor of
Gostivar, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He is
serving a sentence for failing to obey a court order to take
down an Albanian flag during the riots on 9 July and also
for inciting national, racial, and religious hatred (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 14 April 1998). PM

UN POLICE WARN OF NEW VIOLENCE. A spokesman for the UN
police said in Mostar on 5 May that violent ethnically-
motivated incidents have been on the rise recently in the
Croatian-held Herzegovinian town of Capljina, RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service reported. The spokesman added that, in the
past week alone, three Muslim homes have been damaged by
explosions and fires, and that Croatian crowds stoned a bus
carrying Muslims returning to their former homes. In
Sarajevo, a UN spokesman said on 5 May that a Muslim home
was torched in the Croatian-controlled Herzegovinian town of
Stolac, where there has been much ethnic violence against
Muslims in recent months. PM

BOSNIAN ELECTION RULES TO STAY. A spokesman for the OSCE,
which is supervising the September general elections, said
in Sarajevo that only the new parliament will be able to
change the rules for the election of the three-member joint
presidency, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Several
NGOs and representatives of non-nationalist parties have
suggested that the OSCE change the rules now so that each of
the three is elected at large and not just by one ethnic
constituency. Recent polls suggest that such a change would
sweep the current three members of the presidency from
office and replace them with three non-nationalists. PM

ALBANIAN SOCIALIST DEMANDS PARTY REFERENDUM AGAINST PREMIER.
Senior Socialist Party (PS) leader Servet Pellumbi said on 6
May in Tirana that he aims to collect 100,000 signatures for
a referendum of PS members against what he called the
"rightist line" of Prime Minister Fatos Nano. Pellumbi is a
former PS deputy chairman and represents the party's hard-
line wing. He told "Koha Jone" that a recent statement by
Pandeli Majko, who is the head of the PS parliamentarian
group, sparked his campaign. Majko proposed to compensate
pre-communist-era large land owners for property that the
Communists redistributed. Pellumbi pointed out that such a
policy, which Nano has endorsed, contradicts the most basic
principles of the party. He warned that "Nano is pushing the
PS towards becoming a liberal democratic party." FS

WORLD BANK TO HELP TRAIN ALBANIAN LAWYERS. Education
Minister Ethem Ruka said on 5 May in Tirana that the World
Bank will give a grant of $200,000 for the university
training of future lawyers, judges and state prosecutors,
ATSH news agency reported. Ruka's deputy, Vaso Qano, said
the ministry will also request advice from the World Bank on
preventing corruption from playing a role in law school
admissions. The Albanian judicial system has serious
problems because it is highly politicized and often of low
professional quality. Many of its members are either
communist-era holdovers or loyalists of the conservative
Democratic Party. FS

SACKINGS FROM SCANDAL CONTINUE IN ROMANIA. Eight Romanian
army officers were fired on 5 May for allowing a cigarette
smuggling ring to operate out of the Bucharest airport,
Reuters reported. The Defense Ministry said the officers
were dismissed for failing to prevent illicit activities. It
was also announced that a six-person committee will
investigate the cause of the scandal: shipment of 30 million
cigarettes from Greece to Bucharest aboard an Air Sofia
plane on 16 April. The scandal has led to numerous arrests,
resignations, and dismissals. Air Sofia rejected charges
made by Romanian Transport Minister Traian Basescu that it
was obstructing an inquiry into the airline's role in the
scandal. PB

ROMANIAN PREMIER FOR HUNGARIAN CULTURAL AUTONOMY. Radu
Vasile said on 5 May that he backs native-language education
for the ethnic Hungarian population in Romania, "Magyar
Hirlap" reported. Vasile said in an interview that while he
supported cultural autonomy, he strictly ruled out
territorial autonomy for ethnic Hungarians. Vasile said the
fact that 100,000 Hungarians had left Romania in the last
five years was unacceptable for a minority that strives to
preserve its identity. Vasile also said he supports the
founding of an autonomous university for ethnic Hungarians.
PB

INCUMBENT OFFICIALLY PROPOSED AS MOLDOVAN PREMIER. Moldovan
President Petru Lucinschi said on 5 May that the center-
right coalition has decided to nominate Ion Ciubuc as prime
minister, Reuters reported. Ciubuc, who served for a year as
the previous prime minister, is now acting premier.
Lucinschi, speaking on television, said that, upon official
approval of his candidacy and his proposed cabinet by the
parliament, "we must give him the ability to strengthen the
reforms he began last year." The Communist Party said it
would vote for Ciubuc if Lucinschi supported him. Moldova's
gross domestic product grew last year under Ciubuc, the
first time it had done so in seven years. PB

END NOTE

THE DILEMMA OF THE CZECH PRESIDENCY

by Victor Gomez

	Czech President Vaclav Havel may be on the road to
recovery from his colostomy operation in Innsbruck, but
questions about his future in office remain. The questions
are related to two basic issues concerning Havel's health
and the Czech political transition -- one of them short-term
and the other long-term.
	While the president seems to be over the worst of the
problems associated with his operation, things did not look
as rosy a few weeks ago. In April, the Czech president's
vacation in Austria was abruptly interrupted when he had to
undergo an emergency operation due to a perforated colon --
an operation that carries a 30 percent death rate.
	The operation marks the second time in less than a
year and a half that Havel has undergone surgery during
which his life has hung in the balance. In December 1996,
Havel had part of his left lung removed due to cancer. His
lung condition also served as a dangerous complication
during his recent colon surgery.
	Havel's second brush with death caused many people in
the Czech Republic to publicly ask questions which were
previously considered to be taboo. While it is still widely
considered bad taste to publicly speculate as to who might
succeed the president, some observers have started to wonder
out loud whether Havel should not step down. The deputy
chairman of the lower house of the Czech parliament,
Jaroslav Zverina, caused a stir when he said the president
should consider resigning in the interests of his own
health. While Zverina's own party, the formerly governing
Civic Democratic Party (ODS), distanced itself from his
remarks, his comments reflected a question that is gathering
urgency in many Czechs' minds: What would happen if Havel
were too ill to complete his second term in office as Czech
president?
	First off, there are important short-term
considerations associated with Havel's recovery. While
doctors in Innsbruck seem optimistic about his recovery,
some say there is still the possibility that he may not be
in good enough health carry out his constitutional role and
name a prime minister to form a government after the
elections scheduled for 19-20 June. The president will have
to undergo another operation during which doctors will close
his large intestine. That operation is supposed to come in
May, but according to some doctors it could be put off until
later due to complications associated with Havel's lungs.
	With the current Czech political scene as fragmented
and divisive as it is, Havel will be required to play a
much-needed balancing role during the post-election
negotiations to form a new government. Public opinion polls
indicate that no potential governing coalition of parties is
likely to secure a majority in the lower house of the Czech
parliament. Havel already has proven capable of urging quick
and effective solutions on political party leaders. He did
this after the 1996 elections which ended in a political
stalemate and after the collapse of Vaclav Klaus's
government last fall.
	However, if Havel were unable to perform his
constitutional role for health reasons, the post-election
period of instability could drag on longer and be perceived
as more threatening by both domestic and foreign observers.
Furthermore, if a minority government is formed after the
elections -- which is the most likely scenario -- the
possibility of more crises and instability in the near
future cannot be discounted. During such problems, Havel
could act as an important guarantor of political, and
therefore economic, stability in the Czech Republic --
providing he is fit.
	The long-term considerations related to Havel's role
as president have less to do with short-term political
considerations and more to do with the manner in which his
own person has become intertwined with the presidency, and
by extension, with democracy in this country. While the
Czech presidency is a relatively weak position on paper, it
bears significant symbolic and moral authority in this
country both for historical reasons and for reasons
associated with Havel himself.
	Czechs tend to associate the office of the presidency
with the person of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first
president of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1935 and a towering
figure in Czech history. A professor, philosopher, and the
man most credited with achieving Czechoslovak independence
from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Masaryk has become the
ideal against which all subsequent presidents have been
measured. Havel is widely perceived as having come closer
than any other Czechoslovak head of state to that ideal.
	Many Czechs still find it impossible to imagine anyone
other than Havel in the Prague Castle. In fact, many
observers consider Havel's presence to be a virtual
necessity in the current climate of political and economic
uncertainty. Such observers argue that the task of
entrenching democracy and the rule of law in the Czech
Republic is not completely finished, and that the country
still needs Havel to play an important role in that regard.
They worry that parliament will elect a successor who will
be either too weak to act as the moral arbiter Czechs still
seem to think they need or, even worse, who will be a tool
of one or another of the political forces in the country.
	Obviously, both scenarios are realistic, especially
considering the currently fragmented state of the Czech
political scene. Certainly it would be better if Havel
manages to stay fit until his current term in office ends in
2003. By that time, perhaps the political scene will be calm
enough to permit a smooth succession at the castle. Then
again, perhaps it will not.
	In any event, the manner in which many Czechs have
associated Havel's person with democracy in this country
poses problems. No one need be reminded that he would not be
the first "irreplaceable" political leader to be replaced.
There is no reason why a changing of the guard in the Czech
Republic, either presidential or governmental, should fare
any worse than the relatively smooth changes that have
already taken place in neighboring Poland or Hungary, or,
for that matter, in Bulgaria, where veteran dissident Zhelyu
Zhelev was unceremoniously unseated by his own former
supporters. In that sense, this country will have taken
another important step in the development of its political
culture the day a standard succession takes place and a new
president steps into the Prague Castle.

Victor Gomez is the managing editor of the Prague-based
monthly journal "New Presence."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
               Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with the
word "subscribe" as the subject or body of the message.

HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE
Send an email to newsline-request@list.rferl.org with the
word "unsubscribe" as the subject or body of the message.
_________________________________________________
CURRENT AND BACK ISSUES ON THE WEB
Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest are
online at: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/
_________________________________________________
LISTEN TO NEWS FOR 18 COUNTRIES
RFE/RL programs for countries in Eastern Europe, the
Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia and the South Slavic region
are online daily at RFE/RL's 24-Hour LIVE Broadcast Studio:
http://www.rferl.org/realaudio/index.html
_________________________________________________
REPRINT POLICY
To receive reprint permission, please contact
Paul Goble, Publisher
Email: GobleP@rferl.org
Phone: 202-457-6947
Fax: 202-457-6992
Postal Address:  RFE/RL, 1201 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC  20036  USA
_________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE STAFF
* Paul Goble, Publisher, GobleP@rferl.org
* Liz Fuller, Editor-in-Chief, CarlsonE@rferl.org
* Patrick Moore, Team Leader, MooreP@rferl.org
* Laurie Belin, BelinL@rferl.org
* Jan Maksymiuk, MaksymiukJ@rferl.org
* Bruce Pannier, PannierB@rferl.org
* Michael Shafir, ShafirM@rferl.org
* Jan Cleave, CleaveJ@rferl.org

Freelance And Occasional Contributors
* Fabian Schmidt
* Matyas Szabo
* Pete Baumgartner
* Jeremy Bransten
* Jolyon Naegele
* Anthony Wesolowsky
* Julia Guechakov

RFE/RL Newsline Fax: (420-2) 2112-3630
_________________________________________________
RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

[English] [Russian TRANS | KOI8 | ALT | WIN | MAC | ISO5]

F&P Home ° Comments ° Guestbook


1996 Friends and Partners
Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
Please visit the Russian and American mirror sites of Friends and Partners.
Updated: 1998-11-

Please write to us with your comments and suggestions.

F&P Quick Search
Main Sections
Home
Bulletin Board
Chat Room
F&P Listserver

RFE/RL
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
Search

News
News From Russia/NIS
News About Russia/NIS
Newspapers & Magazines
Global News
Weather

©1996 Friends and Partners
Please write to us with any comments, questions or suggestions -- Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole