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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 89 Part II, 12 May 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 89 Part II, 12 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 * HUNGARY'S SOCIALISTS HOPE TO STAY IN POWER * NATO TO REVIEW ALL OPTIONS ON KOSOVA * WESTENDORP WARNS THAT CONFLICT MAY SPREAD xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE PUSTOVOYTENKO GIVES UP PARLIAMENTARY SEAT. Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko, elected as a parliamentary deputy on the Popular Democratic Party ticket, announced on 11 May that he is giving up his parliamentary seat and remaining in the government, ITAR-TASS reported. Ukraine's law forbids officials from holding posts simultaneously in the government and parliament. Environment and Nuclear Safety Minister Yuriy Kostenko, elected on the Popular Rukh ticket, has resigned his post to take up his parliamentary seat. On 12 May, the new parliament convened for the first time. To date, the Central Electoral Commission has registered 430 deputies and ordered elections to be repeated in nine single-mandate constituencies. JM UKRAINE RECEIVES EBRD AID TO SHUT DOWN CHORNOBYL. Ukraine and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have signed agreements granting Kyiv $120 million to help reinforce the crumbling concrete sarcophagus around Chornobyl's fourth reactor, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported on 11 May. Meanwhile, Premier Pustovoytenko and Volodymyr Horbulin, secretary of the Security and Defense Council, have stressed Kyiv's stance that Ukraine will not close the Chornobyl plant until the G-8 releases the funds necessary for the closure. Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Yevgenii Adamov has said those demands "can be qualified as nuclear blackmail." Reuters quoted Adamov as saying that "Chornobyl is not absolutely safe but is roughly on the same level as other similar atomic stations on the CIS territory." . JM BELARUS PLEDGES TO LIBERALIZE PRICES, EXCHANGE RATE. Pyotr Prakapovich, chairman of the Belarusian National Bank, told the EBRD annual meeting in Kyiv on 11 May that Belarus plans to liberalize prices and lift controls on the exchange rate by the end of this year, Reuters reported. Prakapovich stressed that the most complicated task will be to liberalize exchange rate policies. He said the bank's priority is to maintain current economic growth, which Belarus claims reached 10 percent last year. JM ESTONIA, U.S. START ECONOMIC TALKS. Estonian and U.S. delegations have launched so-called economic consultations within the framework of the U.S.-Baltic partnership charter, BNS and ETA reported on 11 May. Included on the agenda are Estonia's negotiations with the World Trade Organization and its bid to become a full member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Estonia is the first of the three Baltic States to begin economic consultations with the U.S. JC LATVIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO KEEP DEATH PENALTY. Ignoring calls by President Guntis Ulmanis to abolish the death penalty, lawmakers on 11 May voted in the third and final reading of a new criminal code against doing away with capital punishment. Ulmanis had placed a moratorium on the death penalty in September 1996, and more recently the parliamentary Legal Commission had proposed banning capital punishment altogether. Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs was quoted by BNS as criticizing the vote. He said it meant that his country is not taking "pragmatic steps" to gain EU entry. The EU does not demand an end to the death penalty to qualify for entry, but Latvia promised to scrap the law when it joined the Council of Europe in 1995. JC HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR DEFENDS LILEIKIS. Shifra Grodnikaite, one of the witnesses requested to testify in the case of alleged Lithuanian war criminal Aleksandras Lileikis, has told "Lietuvos rytas" that Lileikis was not a murderer, Reuters reported on 11 May. "Aleksandras Lileikis saved me at the risk of his own life," said Grodnikaite, who was arrested in Vilnius at the start of the Nazi occupation and now lives in Denver, Colorado. According to Grodnikaite, Lileikis knowingly overlooked her Jewish origins and subscribed to a fake story that she was the illegitimate daughter of a priest. The trial of Lileikis, who is accused of having handed over Jews to Nazi death squads during World War II, was postponed in March to allow the testimony of Grodnikaite and another defense witness to be gathered. It is expected to begin next month. JC POLISH MINERS PROTEST PLANNED JOB CUTS. Some 1,000 miners on 11 May protested the government's plans for restructuring the coal mining industry, "Zycie Warszawy" reported. The protest took place outside the building where a parliamentary commission was discussing the restructuring plan. The government intends to cut nearly 130,000 jobs over the next four years. The protesters demanded the resignation of Deputy Premier Leszek Balcerowicz and Deputy Economy Minister Janusz Szlazak, who are seen as the main advocates of the restructuring plan. JM HAVEL UNDERGOES SURGERY TO CLOSE TRACHEOTOMY APERTURE. Surgeons on 11 May successfully closed an aperture in the throat of Czech President Vaclav Havel, which had been made during a tracheotomy performed on the president last month in Innsbruck to help him breathe more easily, AFP reported. CTK said doctors hope Havel can be released from hospital later this week. Also on 11 May, Havel pardoned the two Roma who attacked the far-right Republican Party leader Miroslav Sladek at a recent rally in Novy Bor. Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek said the president "cannot agree" with the form of the Romas' protest but "can understand their motives." He also said the president "appreciated" the fact that the Roma were protesting Sladek's insults not only against the Romani community but also against Havel and his wife. MS MECIAR ON POSSIBLE POST-ELECTION CRISIS. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 11 May said he will seek an amendment to the constitution aimed at preventing a crisis after the September parliamentary elections. Parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic told journalists that the amendment would grant the parliament or its chairman the power to designate the new prime minister. Under the constitution in its current form, the premier must be appointed by the president. Since March, however, the legislature has repeatedly failed to elect a successor to Michal Kovac, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported. MS HUNGARY'S SOCIALISTS HOPE TO STAY IN POWER... Gyula Horn, chairman of the ruling Socialist Party, said on 11 May that his party has good chances in the second round of elections since its candidates are leading in 113 out of the 175 single-mandate constituencies where a second ballot is to be held. He asked the Socialists' coalition partner, the Free Democrats (SZDSZ), to withdraw their candidates in all constituencies, except for the two in which the SZDSZ is leading. Asked about the possibility of a "grand coalition," Horn said "in politics nothing can be ruled out," but emphasized that the Socialists will not make any advances to their main center-right challenger, the Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP). MSZ ...WHILE OPPOSITION DETERMINED TO OUST GOVERNMENT. FIDESZ- MPP deputy chairman Janos Ader said on 11 May that his party's candidates will step down in the second round in favor of the Independent Smallholders (FKGP) candidates who fared better in the single-mandate constituencies. He added, however, that "there is nothing else to discuss with the FKGP." Smallholders' chairman Jozsef Torgyan said the FIDESZ-MPP can form a government only with the FKGP, adding that his party is ready to withdraw its candidates in favor of the FIDESZ-MPP only if it has a role in a new government. Both FIDESZ-MPP and the FKGP have ruled out involving the far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP) in opposition consultations. The MIEP seems set to enter the parliament for the first time. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE NATO TO REVIEW ALL OPTIONS ON KOSOVA. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said at a meeting of the West European Union on Rhodes on 11 May that representatives of the Atlantic alliance will decide on 13 May whether to take a more active role in containing the crisis in Kosova. He added that "we have not ruled out any possibility." Solana said that so far "the only thing we have done is to ask our military authorities to do preliminary planning of potential help to [Macedonia] and Albania in order to help them control their borders and... prevent any spillover" of the low-intensity conflict. German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe added that possible options include establishing a no-fly zone over Kosova and sending observers to the area. Ruehe said that there is no need to send a large force to patrol the Kosova- Albania border because there is no evidence of major arms smuggling. PM WESTENDORP WARNS THAT CONFLICT MAY SPREAD. Carlos Westendorp, who is the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, said at the UN in New York on 11 May that the conflict in Kosova could spread elsewhere in the region, which, he added, "may have a very negative influence on Bosnia." Westendorp suggested that any intensification of the fighting could lead to an exodus of refugees, many of whom might head for Bosnia. The Spanish diplomat added that NATO troops in Bosnia and elsewhere may find themselves involved in the fighting if a full-fledged war breaks out in Kosova. Westendorp noted that Bosnia itself is entering "a turbulent period" because of efforts by the international community to help refugees return to their homes in areas under the control of another ethnic group. PM HOLBROOKE STILL EMPTY-HANDED. Richard Holbrooke, the previous U.S. special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, and his successor, Robert Gelbard obtained no results from their talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on 11 May, which was their second meeting with him in three days (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 1998). Holbrooke noted that "the distance between the two sides is very great" but added that "we will continue on the instructions and with the encouragement of Secretary of State [Madeleine] Albright and President Bill Clinton to try to fill in the gaps." In a statement, Milosevic slammed the outside "interference" and "pressure" being applied to his country. PM ILIESCU BACKS MILOSEVIC. Romanian former President Ion Iliescu said in Belgrade on 11 May that Milosevic's policy toward Kosova is "fair." The Romanian opposition leader added that Kosova is "an internal problem for Serbia and Yugoslavia," and that the international community has no right to intervene unless Belgrade asks it to do so. In recent months, Romanian businessmen have gone on trial for smuggling gasoline to Serbia during the time that Iliescu was president and sanctions were in force against Belgrade. It has emerged at the trials that the government knew about the smuggling. PM KOSOVAR KILLED IN PRISHTINA. Police deliberately shot an elderly Kosovar onlooker during an early morning raid on a neighboring house on 12 May, Reuters reported, quoting the man's family. Serbian police refused to comment on the story. The previous day, the key road linking Prishtina and Peja remained closed for the fourth straight day because of fighting in the area, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. In Mitrovica, police spokesmen said that the police have arrested seven Kosovars wanted for "terrorism" in conjunction with recent clashes between the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) and the paramilitary police. In Peja, the prosecutor's office launched proceedings against 13 Kosovars on similar charges in conjunction with an attack on the police station in Ponoshec. PM MONTENEGRO TO TRY TO UNSEAT MILOSEVIC. Svetozar Marovic, who is speaker of the Montenegrin parliament and a member of the governing Democratic Socialist Party, said in Budva on 11 May that Montenegrin deputies to the federal parliament will lodge a motion after the 31 May Montenegrin parliamentary elections to remove Milosevic from office. Marovic stressed that Milosevic treats the army like "his private property" and is ruining Yugoslavia internationally through his "xenophobic policies." The speaker added that Montenegrins "will not go to war for Kosova" but also that Montenegro "will not give it up," the Belgrade daily "Novosti" reported. In Podgorica, election officials announced that 10 parties have qualified for a place on the ballot and that 458,340 voters are registered, which is 3,000 voters fewer than in the second round of last year's presidential vote, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM CROATIAN DIPLOMAT BLASTS RULING IDEOLOGY. Davor Bekic, who is ambassador to the UN in Geneva and one of Croatia's leading diplomats, told "Vecernji list" of 9 May that Croatia must adopt a clear policy toward Bosnia and support the unity of that country if Zagreb hopes to avoid problems with the Muslims and with the international community. Without mentioning President Franjo Tudjman or the governing Croatian Democratic Community by name, Bekic charged that the country's political culture is backward and that prominent politicians whitewash Croatia's fascist past. He added that such politicians follow an ideology that attempts to be both socially radical and staunchly nationalist "and that, in other words, is national-socialist, or Nazi." PM NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE AGAINST CROATIAN GOVERNOR. The legislature of Dubrovnik-Neretva county approved a vote of no confidence in Governor Jure Buric in Dubrovnik on 11 May in connection with his role in the ongoing scandal surrounding the Dubrovacka Banka. In the Sarengradska Ada area near Ilok, Yugoslav soldiers briefly detained two Croatian citizens. The area is one of several pockets belonging to Croatia but now on the northern, or Serbian, side of the Danube following a change in the river's course. Serbia treats the pockets as disputed territory and has periodically sent army patrols into the areas, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. And in Osijek, Croatian police arrested a Serb suspected of involvement in three murders in Vukovar following the fall of that town to Serbian forces in November 1991. PM BOMB ATTACK ON ALBANIAN JOURNALIST. A bomb slightly injured four children on 10 May at the Vlora home of "Koha Jone" correspondent Zenepe Luka. Local police Chief Rebani Memsuhi said that the 5 kilogram bomb was the largest explosive device used in the southern city since the unrest ended in the second half of 1997. He added that "the attack, which aimed at physically eliminating Zenepe Luka's family, was also directed at the free press." The explosion occurred just hours after the Democratic Party officials had refused to admit her to a party rally but had relented following an appeal by Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe ambassador Daan Everts. Addressing the rally, Democratic legislator Azem Hajdari called Luka a "slut" and an associate of gang leader Zani Caushi. Luka became well known during the 1997 revolt, when she was one of only a handful of reporters in the city. FS ROMANIA DECRIMINALIZES HOMOSEXUALITY. The government on 7 May approved a draft law decriminalizing homosexual relations. The draft, which has yet to be approved by the parliament, states that homosexual relations are punishable only if minors under the age of 14 are involved or if rape takes place. Under the existing penal code, homosexual relations are punishable if they constitute a "public offense" and can carry a sentence of up to seven years. Romania has been repeatedly criticized by international human rights organizations and the Council of Europe for classifying homosexuality as a criminal offense. The Romanian Orthodox Church and extreme nationalists parties and public organizations are opposed to decriminalizing homosexual relations. MS MOLDOVAN SECRET SERVICES PREVENTED MIG DEAL LEAK. Moldova's secret services have prevented an attempt by a former Defense Ministry official to smuggle classified documents out of the country. The documents contained details of contracts to sell MiG fighters to the U.S. and South Yemen. Last year, Moldova sold 21 MiG-29 fighters to the U.S; in 1994, it sold four fighters to South Yemen. The official tried to get the documents to a country whose name has not been revealed "in the interests of the investigation," ITAR- TASS reported on 11 May, citing the press service of the Moldovan Ministry for State Security. MS BULGARIAN PRESIDENT IN CHINA. President Petar Stoyanov and his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, met in Beijing on 11 May and signed a declaration on strengthening bilateral relations, dpa reported. They also signed agreements on cooperation in telecommunications, culture, science, and education. Stoyanov said Bulgaria will remain faithful to its "one China policy" and will not establish formal relations with Taiwan. Accompanied by a large delegation of businessmen, Stoyanov is scheduled to meet with Premier Zhu Rongji and parliamentary chairman Li Peng on 12 May. MS 'OPEN WAR' BETWEEN CRIME-FIGHTING CHIEFS IN BULGARIA. The shooting of a policeman in Sofia last weekend has exacerbated what the Bulgarian media call an "open war" between Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev and Prosecutor- General Ivan Tatarchev. Tatarchev recently released a special report criticizing widespread police brutality toward suspects in detention. The ministry said the report was "exaggerated" and Bonev demanded Tatarchev's resignation, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Meanwhile on 11 May, a journalist for "Trud" who specializes in investigating organized crime was seriously hurt when acid was thrown in her face at a bus stop in Sofia. Ana Zaharova was hospitalized, while the attacker managed to escape in a car that was waiting for him, Bulgarian Radio reported. MS 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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