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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 96 Part II, 21 May 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 96 Part II, 21 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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx SPECIAL REPORT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE: MAKING IT WORK FOR HUMANITY Next month, work will begin on the creation of a permanent International Criminal Court. This four-part series explores the ramifications of a new criminal court and how the current war crimes tribunals are handling cases related to the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/courts/index.html xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * SLOVAK PARLIAMENT MAKES CONTROVERSIAL CHANGE TO ELECTION LAW * MONTENEGRO REJECTS NEW FEDERAL GOVERNMENT * SERBIAN BLOCKADE OF KOSOVA JEOPARDIZES TALKS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE STRIKING DNIPROPETROVSK MINERS TO MARCH TO KYIV? Some 5,000 miners who marched from Pavlovhrad to Dnipropetrovsk to protest wage arrears spent the night from 20-21 May outside the oblast administration building after presenting an ultimatum to the government, ITAR-TASS reported. The ultimatum says the miners will wait 24 hours for a government decision to pay back wages. If the government fails to take such a decision, the group will march to Kyiv. The acting coal industry minister has pledged to pay this month's wage (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 May 1998), but the protesters demand payment of all wage arrears to Pavlovhrad mines, now totaling 84 million hryvni ($42 million). They also are calling for the restoration of subsidies to coal mining sector, which were suspended by the government 18 months ago. JM CRIMEAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER SEEKS PARTNERSHIP WITH KYIV. Leonid Hrach, a leading Communist who was elected speaker of the Crimean legislature last week, says he hopes to establish a partnership with Kyiv, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 May. In Hrach's opinion, such relations are essential to overcome the current crisis and reinstate civil peace in Crimea. Hrach has already met with President Leonid Kuchma, whose presidential spokesman announced that Kuchma agrees to Serhiy Kunitsyn's appointment as Crimean prime minister. The Crimean Supreme Council nominated Kunitsyn, leader of the centrist bloc in the parliament, as premier after the bloc supported Hrach's election as speaker (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 May 1998). JM UKRAINE FAILS TO COLLECT $2.5 BILLION IN BUDGET REVENUES. Presidential spokesman Oleksandr Maydannyk said on 20 May that the Ukrainian budget failed to collect 5 billion hryvni ($2.5 billion) in the first quarter of this year, ITAR-TASS reported. According to Maydannyk, the main reasons for this failure were tax evasion and the slow pace of privatization. He added that President Leonid Kuchma has submitted to the Supreme Council several draft laws intended to stabilize the budget situation, including a bill on reducing income tax and another on introducing a single land tax. JM BELARUSIANS SAY ECONOMIC SITUATION WORSENED. In an opinion poll conducted by the Belarusian Trade Union Federation among 2,500 employees nationwide, 82.3 percent of respondents said the economic situation in the country has worsened, Belapan reported on 20 May. Most of the respondents are living at or below the subsistence level, despite having permanent employment and being highly skilled. Of those polled, 49.7 percent cannot buy sufficient amounts of food, 57.2 percent are unable to buy necessary clothing and footwear, and 63.5 percent cannot provide "normal support" to their families. JM ESTONIAN COALITION GIVES TWO MINISTERS ULTIMATUM. The ruling coalition has threatened to sack Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Ethnic Affairs Minister Andra Veidemann if their parties--the People's Party and the Development Party, respectively--continue to refuse to share political responsibility for the government's actions, ETA and BNS reported on 20 May. Siimann said that it is "not normal" that parties whose leaders are cabinet ministers should accept responsibility only for the sphere of governance of those leaders. He also said that parties represented in the government cannot vote against government-proposed bills in the parliament. "If our conditions are not accepted, those parties cannot be represented by a minister in the government," Siimann commented. He added that the coalition will not discuss the issue with the parties. JC LATVIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES IN PRINCIPLE CHANGES TO CITIZENSHIP LAW. Lawmakers on 20 May voted by 52 to one with one abstention to approve in principle amendments to the citizenship law that would allow children born to non- Latvians after 21 August 1991 to become citizens at the age of 16 if they can prove sufficient knowledge of the Latvian language. Those amendments, however, do not comply with the recommendations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which wants all children born in Latvia to be automatically granted citizenship, regardless of nationality or language skills. Amendments based on those recommendations are to be discussed at a future, unspecified date. The Democratic Party Saimnieks, which recently quit the ruling coalition, did not take part in the 20 May vote. JC CE OFFICIAL SAYS NO ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION IN LITHUANIAN JAILS. Andreas Gross, a representative of the Council of Europe's parliamentary Legal and Human Rights Committee, has said that Russian allegations of ethnic discrimination in Lithuania's prisons are groundless, dpa reported, citing ELTA. He made the comment after visiting two Lithuanian prisons and meeting with several ethnic Russian inmates. "I see no evidence proving that the prisons or the law treat national minorities any differently from citizens of Lithuania," Gross said. Lawmakers in Moscow and Russian representatives at the Council of Europe have accused Lithuania of treating non-Lithuanian convicts unfairly and of convicting people for political reasons. JC POLISH MINISTERS SURVIVE NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE. The parliament on 20 May voted down no-confidence motions brought by the former communist Democratic Left Alliance against Justice Minister Hanna Suchocka (Freedom Union) and Education Minister Miroslaw Handke (Solidarity Electoral Action). "This is a very good day for the government: the no- confidence motion turned into a great vote of confidence," "Zycie Warszawy" quoted Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek as saying. The ruling coalition controls 260 of the parliament's 460 seats. The coalition's unanimous voting came after a recent series of rifts between the ruling parties and a setback in the government's push for administrative reform. A parliamentary committee recently adopted a proposal that the number of provinces should be reduced to 17, rather than 12, as advocated by the government. JM CZECH PARLIAMENT APPROVES CLASSIFIED DATA LAW. The Chamber of Deputies on 20 May passed a law on the protection of classified data and the National Security Office's role in implementing the law. The new legislation will make it possible for the Czech Republic to receive such information from NATO. The absence of such a law had been one of the more serious reservations expressed in NATO circles over the admission of the Czech Republic to the organization, CTK reported. MS SLOVAK PARLIAMENT MAKES CONTROVERSIAL CHANGE TO ELECTION LAW. Lawmakers on 20 May approved the controversial amendment to the electoral law proposed by Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau and Reuters reported. The amended law requires each party within an alliance to cross a 5 percent threshold in order to gain representation. The previous law had required that alliances of three parties or more receive at least 10 percent of the vote and individual parties 5 percent. In response to the intention to amend the law, the Slovak Democratic Coalition, which was the main opposition alliance, has formed a single party, while three ethnic Hungarian parties have merged to form the Hungarian Coalition. Bela Bugar, a deputy of the Hungarian Coalition, said the amended law's "sole purpose" is to ensure the HZDS's victory in September. MS HORN, ORBAN HOLD TELEVISED DEBATE. Gyula Horn, chairman of the ruling Socialist Party, and Viktor Orban, leader of the main opposition Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP), took part in a debate broadcast live on national radio and television on 20 May. Most analysts consider the result of that meeting to have been a "draw." Orban said his party proved in the first round of the elections that an alternative to the present government exists. Horn criticized the FIDESZ-MPP's economic program and mentioned the possibility of continuing the coalition with the Free Democrats, while Orban said that FIDESZ-MPP hopes to win enough seats to form a coalition with the Democratic Forum and the Christian Democratic Alliance, without including the Independent Smallholders' Party. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE MONTENEGRO REJECTS NEW FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 20 May that the new government of Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic is "illegitimate, illegal, and un-Yugoslav" (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report," 20 May 1998). Djukanovic added that Montenegro will recognize neither Bulatovic nor his cabinet. In Belgrade, Bulatovic announced the composition of his cabinet, which is almost completely identical to that of his predecessor, Radoje Kontic. One change is that Bulatovic backer Danilo Vuksanovic replaces Vojin Djukanovic, a supporter of President Djukanovic, as one of five deputy prime ministers, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Bulatovic also told the parliament that corruption and crime are "public enemy number one." President Djukanovic and many of his backers made their fortunes through sanctions-busting during the 1991-1995 wars. PM NATO CONCERNED ABOUT YUGOSLAVIA. NATO ambassadors said in a statement in Brussels on 20 May that the Atlantic alliance is concerned about the rising tensions between Serbia and Montenegro. The ambassadors also discussed the situation on the Albanian-Yugoslav border but made no decision regarding NATO's role in the Kosova crisis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 May 1998). In Washington, Secretary of Defense William Cohen and his German counterpart, Volker Ruehe, said they favor a political rather than a military solution in Kosova. Ruehe added that "we must look at the military options and the study that is being done by NATO, and avoid symbolism, dangerous symbolism, but look at options that could be meaningful" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 May 1998). Ruehe stressed that the real problem is not along the Kosovar border but "in Kosova--the dictatorship, the police state, and lack of autonomy." PM SERBIAN BLOCKADE OF KOSOVA JEOPARDIZES TALKS. Fehmi Agani, who is a top adviser to Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova, said in Prishtina on 20 May that the Kosovars will attend talks with a Serbian delegation on 22 May despite the Kosovars' concern about the ongoing Serbian blockade of the province (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 1998). In recent days, Kosovar sources have reported food shortages across much of the province. Serbian officials say there is no blockade but only a check on the papers and safety of privately owned vehicles. Reuters, however, quoted an unnamed Serbian source as saying that the blockade is unwise "and could not have come at a worse time." A Western diplomat added: "What is [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic playing at? If he wants to prevent the talks from going ahead, the blockade is a sure way to do it." PM SERBS STILL HOLD FOUR KOSOVARS. Serbian police in Klina on 19 May released four of the eight Kosovars they took off a train on the Prishtina-Peja line earlier that day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 May 1998). The Kosovar news agency KIC said that all four had been beaten while in custody and sought medical treatment after their release. KIC added that there is no information on the whereabouts of the other four Kosovars whom police removed from the same train. PM ALBANIAN POLICE SEIZE ARMS BOUND FOR KOSOVA. Police intercepted a truck loaded with arms at a routine checkpoint in Lezha on 20 May. It was the largest quantity of illegal arms ever seized by Albanian police in a single operation and included 200 machine guns, 500 boxes with ammunition cartridges, and 400 grenades . Police arrested the driver of the truck, who is an Albanian citizen, as well as a Kosovar who was following the truck in a private car. An unnamed police official told "Koha Jone" that those arrested "bought [the arms] for a low price on the private Albanian market and [wanted to] bring them to [Kosova]." The same day, villagers living near the border in the Kukes area said Serbian border guards shot at them. FS NO SERBS RETURN TO GLAMOC. A spokesman for the UN High Commission for Refugees said in Livno in Herzegovina on 20 May that nobody from Glamoc's pre-war Serbian population has returned to their former homes, "Oslobodjenje" wrote. In 1991, some 10,000 Serbs lived in Glamoc, where they made up 80 percent of the population. At that time, only 200 Croats, or 1.5 percent of the total residents, lived there. Croat- controlled Glamoc is now inhabited by 500 Muslims, as well as by 1,400 Croats, who are mainly refugees from central Bosnia. In Banja Luka, spokesmen for Serbian refugees from Croatia, who fled during the Croatian army's offensives in 1995, said that at least 80,000 Krajina Serbs live in the Republika Srpska, mainly in the west. The spokesmen added that one-quarter of them want to go home but that neither Banja Luka nor Zagreb has proven willing to help them. PM AMBASSADORS PROTEST OVER VUKOVAR. Members of a group of foreign ambassadors to Croatia monitoring the situation in eastern Slavonia said that Vukovar "will not get one cent" from the international community unless the city administration begins to function properly, "Novi List" reported. The ambassadors noted that Serbs continue to leave eastern Slavonia for Yugoslavia or the Republika Srpska and that the Serbs have difficulty returning to their former homes elsewhere in Croatia. The ambassadors also stated that ethnically motivated incidents continue to take place in eastern Slavonia, and that Croatian authorities harass individual Serbs whose alleged crimes have been pardoned under an amnesty, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The diplomats called on the Croatian authorities not to prosecute any Serbs for war crimes without the approval of the Hague-based tribunal. The ambassadors also urged local Serbs to cooperate with the Croatian authorities. PM ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS THREATEN TO BOYCOTT LOCAL ELECTIONS. Opposition Democratic Party leader Sali Berisha said on 20 May in Tirana that his party will boycott the 21 June local elections unless there are changes in the composition of the Central Election Commission. Berisha demands that all parties be allowed to send representatives to the commission, including smaller parties currently not represented in the body. The elections will take place only in localities where mayors or a significant number of city council members quit their jobs during last year's unrest. FS MORE REVELATIONS ABOUT ROMANIAN 'CIGARETTE SMUGGLING AFFAIR.' Virgil Magureanu, former chief of the Romanian Intelligence Service, confirmed in an interview with RFE/RL on 20 May that in December 1992 he asked the then prosecutor-general to free from detention Lebanese citizen Elie Nassar, who was under investigation in an earlier case of cigarette smuggling. Magureanu also confirmed that he intervened on Elie Nassar's behalf at the request of his brother, Mike Nassar, who is a fugitive involved in the latest smuggling affair. A transcription of the conversation between Mike Nassar and Magureanu was published on 18-19 May in the daily "Evenimentul zilei". Magureanu said the taping of the conversation was "illegal" and denied any wrongdoing. The Nassar brothers offered to pay $3 million to "compensate" Romanian customs, and Magureanu claims he immediately informed former President Ion Iliescu and former Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu about the offer, which was accepted. MS LEGAL PROCEDURE BEGUN TO LIFT TUDOR'S IMMUNITY. The Prosecutor-General's Office on 20 May asked the Minister of Justice to propose that the Senate lift the parliamentary immunity of Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party. This is the first step in the legal procedure for such a move. Tudor is accused of having insulted President Emil Constantinescu and one of his counselors in allegations about their involvement in the cigarette smuggling affair. Last month, the Prosecutor- General's Office asked to begin the procedure of lifting Tudor's immunity in connection with in other calumny cases involving the senator. The office is also asking the Chamber of Deputies to lift the immunity of Gabriel Bivolaru, a deputy of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, for alleged involvement in fraud against the Romanian Bank for Development. MS SEVEN FORMER COMMUNIST OFFICIALS CHARGED IN ROMANIA. Seven former officials and military commanders in Cluj have been charged for their role in the repression of demonstrators during the December 1989 uprising. Among them is General Iulian Topliceanu, who is accused of having ordered the opening of fire on demonstrators. In other news, the Civic Alliance Movement on 20 May clarified its position towards President Emil Constantinescu, saying it continues to support his struggle against corruption and that most of the corruption cases involve persons with links to the previous government. It also said the movement's criticism of the president by its executive chairman, Valerian Stan, was the latter's "personal position" (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 20 May 1998). MS BULGARIAN PIPELINE TENDER CLOSES. Nine international consortia are participating in an international tender for a feasibility study of a proposed oil pipeline from Bulgaria to Greece. The deadline for the tender closed on 19 May, an RFE/RL correspondent in Athens reported. The study is to be completed within 10 months. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Bulgarian Energy Committee Ivan Shilyashki told Reuters on 20 May that upgrading the reactors at the controversial Kozloduy nuclear power plant will make it possible to run safely two of the reactors until 2005-2006 and the other two until 2010-2012. Also on 20 May, the opposition Socialist Party daily "Duma" resumed publication after pledging to pay its 650 million leva ($360,000) debt to the state printing company, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 May 1998). MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. 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