The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 103 Part II, 1 June 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 103 Part II, 1 June 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
RUSSIAN MEDIA EMPIRES III
A new prime minister has taken office, Boris Berezovsky's
now a CIS official, and the state plans to form a new media
holding company. See our updated media report.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rumedia3/index.html
(English)
http://www.rferl.org/bd/ru/russian/content/reports/rumedia3/
index.html
(Russian)

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Headlines, Part II

* HAVEL WARNS AGAINST VOTE FOR EXTREMIST PARTIES

* DJUKANOVIC WINS IN MONTENEGRO

* ANOTHER SERBIAN OFFENSIVE UNDER WAY IN KOSOVA

End Note: WHY "WAG THE DOG" SHOULD NOT BE SHOWN IN ALBANIA
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

IMF SAYS BELARUS'S ECONOMIC POLICY UNSTABLE, UNSUSTAINABLE.
Richard Haas, head of the IMF permanent office in Belarus
(which is to be closed later this month), said in Minsk on
29 May that the economic policy of the Belarusian leadership
is "unstable and unsustainable," Belapan reported.
Commenting on the visit of an IMF group to Belarus earlier
in May, Haas said IMF experts are concerned about tight
state control over prices and currency-exchange rates, an
ever-increasing number of barter deals, and the large volume
of state credits and subsidies. They are also worried about
a draft presidential decree stipulating the subordination of
the National Bank to the government. While commenting on the
National Bank Chairman Pyotr Prakapovich's pledge to
liberalize exchange controls by the end of this year, Haas
said that the IMF's aim is "not to finance the status quo
but to finance transformation," Reuters reported. JM

KUCHMA SAYS CONSULTATIONS WITH BONN "OUTSTANDING EVENT."
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has hailed the political
consultations between Ukraine and Germany, which were
launched by his 28 May meeting with German Chancellor Helmut
Kohl in Bonn, as an "outstanding event in the history of
relations of the two countries," Ukrainian Television
reported. He added that Ukraine counts on German support in
its aspirations toward European integration. Kohl, for his
part, advised that Ukrainian ties with the EU and NATO
should not be too hastily developed. "I am strictly against
naming concrete dates," dpa quoted the German chancellor as
saying. But he was more upbeat about the prospects of
building a large German-Ukrainian-Russian transport
aircraft, based on the Russian-Ukrainian An-70 aircraft,
saying the decision will be taken next year following a
feasibility study by aviation experts. JM

UKRAINE, GAZPROM SET UP OIL, GAS EXPLORATION COMPANY.
Ukraine's Chornomornaftohaz oil and gas company on 29 May
signed a deal with the Russian monopoly Gazprom on creating
a joint venture to prospect for oil and gas deposits in the
Black and Azov Seas, ITAR-TASS reported. According to the
Chornomornaftohaz director Mikolay Ilnitskyy, those deposits
are estimated at 1.5 billion tons and may be tapped by the
new joint venture "in a year or two." The deal provides for
the equal role of the two companies in the undertaking and
the joint use of gas fields around Crimea. JM

ESTONIAN POLITICAL LEADER TO FACE EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGE? The
Prosecutor-General's Office on 29 May appealed to the
chancellor of justice to launch proceedings to lift the
parliamentary immunity of Reform Party chairman Siim Kallas,
ETA reported The investigators want to charge Kallas, who is
a former president of the Bank of Estonia, with abuse of
office, giving false information, and intent to
embezzlement. The charges are in connection with the five-
year-old $10 million affair in which the central bank issued
a guarantee to the former North Estonian Bank following the
collapse of a deal with a Swiss-based company (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 26 May 1998). Investigators have reportedly found
a document signed by Kallas granting a guarantee to the
North Estonian Bank. Kallas has admitted the deal was "bad"
but regards the central bank's action as justified. JC

SAIMNIEKS WANTS CEVERS TO CONTINUE AS CHAIRMAN. The board of
Latvia's Democratic Party Saimnieks has said Ziedonis Cevers
must continue as party chairman at least until the general
elections scheduled for this fall, BNS reported on 29 May.
Saimnieks caucus leader Viesturs Boka argued that the party
has become more open and that Cevers should take "this
period of awakening" into account. "The party's face should
not be changed so that it fails to recognize itself in a
mirror," he added. Last month, Cevers told reporters that he
planned to quit as party chairman over political intrigues
connected with his name. He also complained of having no
opportunity to speak openly about opponents while he heads
the party. JC

ETHNIC RUSSIAN CHARGED WITH SOVIET-ERA GENOCIDE IN
LITHUANIA. The Vilnius District Prosecutor's Office has
charged an ethnic Russian with genocide of Lithuanian
nationals during the Soviet occupation, BNS reported on 29
May. Agafon Surinin, 77, is accused of deporting three
families from Lithuania to the Soviet Union and torturing a
woman during interrogation. Surinin was charged in absentia
as doctors say he is not well enough to be interrogated.
Last week, the parliament voted to declare mass deportations
from Lithuania to the USSR a "grave war crime" to which no
statute of limitation applies, according to the news agency.
JC

POLAND'S ADMINISTRATIVE REFORM PROMPTS ROADBLOCKS. Local
communities in Poland's five provinces blocked roads on 30-
31 May to protest the state administrative reform under way
in the country, Polish media reported. According to that
reform, Poland's 49 provinces are to be replaced by 12
larger regions vested with greater powers than their
predecessors. Michal Kulesza, the government plenipotentiary
for administrative reform, criticized the roadblocks, saying
they defended interests that had existed until now as well
as "centralist principles of exercising power," Polish
Television reported. JM

LEFTIST TRADE UNION DEMANDS TALKS WITH GOVERNMENT. A
congress of the left-wing National Trade Union Alliance
(OPZZ) in Warsaw on 29-31 May called for the government to
hold a trilateral meeting with the OPZZ and Solidarity
devoted to work out a "pact for the Polish family," "Zycie
Warszawy" reported. Jozef Wiaderny, who was re-elected OPZZ
chairman at the congress, said the pact should be a "mutual
obligation assumed by the government and its social partners
to ensure a non-conflicting course of state administrative
reforms." The OPZZ is to step up its protests if the
government fails to meet its demands. The alliance is highly
critical of the current administrative reform as well as of
privatization and has accused the government of favoring
Solidarity in its contacts with trade unions. JM

HAVEL WARNS AGAINST VOTE FOR EXTREMIST PARTIES. Czech
President Vaclav Havel, speaking on state radio on 30 May,
warned voters not to cast their ballot for extremist parties
in the 19-20 June elections, CTK reported. Havel said that
people opting for parties that advocate policies of a "firm
hand" would eventually regret their choice as such a
government would "sooner or later turn against those who
voted for it." Havel criticized mainstream parties for
failing to gain sufficient respect among voters to prevent
the rise of extremist formations. In other news, a public
opinion poll conducted by the STEM institute shows that the
main opposition Social Democratic Party's (CSSD) lead has
shrunk to only 5 percent. The CSSD is backed by 24 percent,
while former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic
Party is backed by 19 percent. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENTIAL BALLOT FAILS AGAIN. The parliament on 29
May again failed to elect a president, Reuters reported. The
only candidate in the seventh round of voting was the
independent Vladimir Abraham, who had been proposed by an
independent parliamentary deputy. He received just 11 votes,
79 short of the minimum majority required by the
constitution. Parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic has set
the next ballot for 11 June, Reuters reported. Also on 29
May, Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, in a telephone
conversation with Austrian Chancellor Viktor Klima, rejected
the appeal to postpone the startup of the controversial
Mochovce nuclear plant, Reuters reported, citing TASR. MS

COALITION TALKS BEGIN IN HUNGARY. The Federation of Young
Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP) on 29 May
offered the post of justice minister and a deputy
premiership to its election ally, the Hungarian Democratic
Forum (MDF), MTI reported. MDF deputy parliamentary faction
leader David Ibolya said his party is "satisfied" with the
offer. The same day, the Independent Smallholders re-elected
Joszef Torgyan as their chairman. Also on 29 May, the
Socialist Party elected outgoing Foreign Minister Laszlo
Kovacs as its faction leader. On 30 May the leader of the
Hungarian Democratic People's Party, Ivan Szabo, resigned
following his party's failure to gain representation in the
parliament. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

DJUKANOVIC WINS IN MONTENEGRO. For a Better Life, the
coalition loyal to reformist President Milo Djukanovic, has
won an outright majority in the 31 May election to the
Montenegrin parliament and to local assemblies. With 72
percent of the votes tallied, candidates loyal to former
President Momir Bulatovic, who backs Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic, have some 35 percent of the vote. Final
results are to be announced on 2 June. A spokesman for
Bulatovic conceded defeat in Podgorica on 1 June. Djukanovic
supporters in the Montenegrin parliament will be able to
change the composition of the Montenegrin delegation in the
upper house of the federal parliament in Belgrade and
thereby affect the balance of power between supporters and
opponents of Milosevic there. PM

ANOTHER SERBIAN OFFENSIVE UNDER WAY IN KOSOVA. Serbian
forces launched a fresh offensive in the Peja and Decan
areas on 29 May, the Kosovar KIC news agency reported from
Prishtina on 31 May. The semi-official Serbian Media Center
added that the police killed "several dozen ethnic Albanians
in response to an attack by armed separatists" over the
weekend. According to KIC, Serbian police are holding 200
Albanians captive at one location in Decan and 70 at
another. Some 3,000 refugees from Decan arrived in Lipjan.
There is no independent confirmation of these and other
reports of fighting because the Serbian authorities have
kept almost all foreign journalists out of the combat area
for nearly a month. Some telephone lines in the region "were
cut" in recent days, the VOA reported on 1 June. The same
day in Tirana, Interior Ministry spokesmen said some 1,000
Kosovar refugees have arrived in Albania over the past 24
hours. PM

RUGOVA GETS BACKING FROM CLINTON... Meeting in Washington on
29 May, President Bill Clinton praised Kosovar shadow-state
President Ibrahim Rugova and other top Kosovar officials for
their commitment to non-violence. Veton Surroi, who is
Kosova's leading journalist and a member of Rugova's
negotiating team, said after the meeting: "the overall
general assurance, I think, the umbrella assurance is that
Bosnia will not be repeated." Clinton's press spokesman
noted that Clinton expressed concern that Belgrade is
"resorting to large-scale indiscriminate violence in western
Kosova" and that Clinton expects a "swift and firm response"
from the international Contact Group to the Serbian
offensive. Rugova told reporters that he urged Clinton to
take "urgent action" to protect the Kosovars. PM

...AND ALBRIGHT. The Kosovars on 30 May received promises of
political backing from Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright. Albright's press spokesman said she "offered full
U.S. support for the dialogue process and emphasized that it
must deal urgently with substantive issues." He added that
the Kosovars told her "that they are prepared to hold the
dialogue on a continuous basis given the critical security
situation on the ground." Surroi, however, said the Kosovars
want an improvement in the security situation before talks
can continue. Elsewhere, USAID Director Brian Atwood said
Washington will increase assistance to Kosova this year from
$7.5 million to $13.5 million. PM

GINGRICH PRAISES U.S. MISSION IN BOSNIA. Speaker of the
House Newt Gingrich said at the U.S. Bosnian base at Camp
McGovern on 31 May that "the American mission here is very,
very important, and I talked to people who see differences
between violence and that what is now happening.... We have
to be prepared to do here what we can for children to have a
chance to grow up in peace, to get a chance to get a job and
peaceful lives." Gingrich stressed, however, that the
Bosnians themselves must shape their own future and that
getting them to do so "is a big challenge." Meanwhile in
Banja Luka, Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told
her Serbian People's League on 30 May that she has opted to
return the Bosnian Serbs "to the normal, civilized world but
without abandoning national goals," RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. PM

SARAJEVO SERBS URGE EQUALITY. The convention of the Serbian
Civic Council (SGV), which represents Bosnian Serbs who
remained loyal to the Bosnian government throughout the war,
reelected Mirko Pejanovic as chairman in Sarajevo on 30 May.
The delegates passed a measure calling for the establishment
of full legal equality of Muslims, Croats, and Serbs
throughout all of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a prerequisite to
solving key problems, including the return of refugees. PM

THUGS THREATEN JOURNALISTS. In Sarajevo on 30 May, the
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights issued a statement
condemning a verbal attack by former military police
commander Ismet Bajramovic, also known as "Celo," against
the staff of the independent bi-monthly "Dani." The previous
day, Celo and four of his body guards threatened physical
violence against the journalists, whose magazine recently
published an article on organized crime. The Helsinki Group
said that "responsibility for the prevalence of this sort of
anarchy should be shouldered by the centers of the highest
political power.... [It is the top leadership's] fault that
people from the margins of society have been promoted into
heroes and have been allowed to become rich and powerful and
out of reach of justice." PM

ALBANIAN ARMY OFFICERS DETAINED OVER ARMS THEFT. A Tirana
military court on 29 May ordered the continued detention
pending trial of two officers whom it suspects of
involvement in the recent theft of 100 mortar shells and
1,000 artillery shells (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 28 May 1998).
The court charged two other officers with negligence but did
not order their arrest. The depot in Shkoze, north of
Tirana, was not guarded when unknown thieves stole the
ammunition. Arms prices on the black market have skyrocketed
since the outbreak of fighting in Kosova in February.
Meanwhile, the Forum of Albanian Intellectuals said in a
resolution in Tirana on 30 May that NATO should deploy
troops in Kosova. FS

SCHOOL CHILDREN CLEAN UP TIRANA. Thousands of pupils from 70
schools on 29 May followed the call of Prime Minister Fatos
Nano and the OSCE to clean up their neighborhoods. The
children collected 10,000 bags of garbage, for each of which
the OSCE will donate $2 for the purchase of school supplies.
Garbage is a serious problem in Tirana and elsewhere in
Albania, reflecting both the boom in urbanization since the
fall of Communism and a lack of civic consciousness. FS

ROMANIA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIANS DEMAND UNIVERSITY IN CLUJ. Bela
Marko, chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania (UDMR), announced on 30 May that the UDMR will
submit to the parliament by 15 June a draft law for setting
up a separate Hungarian-language university in Cluj. Marko
said that the UDMR will "cease cooperation" with the other
coalition partners if government regulations nos. 22 and 36
are not amended to the satisfaction of the Hungarian
minority. Regulation 22, which allows for street signs in
minority languages, has been rejected by the Senate and the
Constitutional Court ruled that it contravened the basic
law. Regulation 36 changed the education law to satisfy
Hungarian demands but was amended by the Senate. Meanwhile,
on 31 May, Prime Minister Radu Vasile said he will invite
Viktor Orban, the likely future Hungarian premier, to pay a
visit to Romania. MS

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY SETS UP 'SHADOW CABINET.' The
Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 29 May
announced it will to set up a 10-member "shadow cabinet" to
monitor the activities of the government. The cabinet is to
be headed by PDSR deputy chairman Adrian Nastase. In a
letter to President Emil Constantinescu, the PDSR demanded
early elections. Also on 29 May, in an interview with Pro
TV, Premier Vasile complained that he is being undermined by
members of the ruling coalition and of his own party who, he
said, are "set on demonstrating that this cabinet will have
the same fate as that headed by [Victor] Ciorbea," RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. MS

BULGARIA, RUSSIA 'SATISFIED' WITH RELATIONS. Foreign
Ministers Nadezhda Mihailova and Yevgenii Primakov, meeting
in Luxembourg on 29 May, said they are now "satisfied" that
bilateral relations have improved after the signing in April
of the agreement on Russian gas deliveries to Bulgaria. They
added that preparations are now under way for "speeding up"
the visit to Moscow by President Petar Stoyanov. The two
countries' premiers are also to meet. Primakov said Russia
"fully shares" Bulgaria's position that "economic sanctions"
over Kosova "can only have an adverse effect on the
economies of Yugoslavia's neighbors" and are "a dubious
instrument" for pressure on Belgrade. In other news, Deputy
Industry Minister Stefan Stavrev and his Ukrainian
counterpart, Valeriy Subarev, meeting in Plodviv on 29 May,
agreed on closer cooperation between the two countries' arms
industries in order to produce new equipment and sell it to
third countries, dpa reported. MS

BULGARIA'S ROMA THREATEN 'HUMAN TORCH' PROTEST. Members of
the Romani community in the northern town of Lom are
threatening to set themselves on fire to draw attention to
their plight as victims of discrimination and racist abuse,
AFP reported on 30 May. They have been on a hunger strike
since 25 May to protest the refusal of state firms to employ
Roma and media coverage that ignores the Roma's problems and
focuses on criminal activities among the Romani community.
The protest is also directed against the Lom local
authorities, which has not paid them welfare benefits since
the beginning of 1998. Andrei Terziyski of the Romani Union
estimated that 92 percent of Roma in Bulgarian towns are
unemployed and that 90 percent of inmates in the country's
jails are Roma. MS

END NOTE

WHY "WAG THE DOG" SHOULD NOT BE SHOWN IN ALBANIA

by Fabian Schmidt

	Months after the movie "Wag the Dog" reached cinemas
in the U.S. and much of Europe, it has not yet arrived here
in Albania, which plays a pivotal role in the movie. But it
would probably be for the best if the film never played in
Albanian movie theaters.
	First, the movie would create unnecessary misgivings
among Albanians about U.S.-Albanian relations. Many
Albanians would have to recognize how insignificant their
country looks from a U.S. perspective, and their patriotic
feelings could be greatly hurt in the process. A few years
ago, there was a heated debate about whether Gianni Amelio's
movie "Lamerica"--which depicted the exodus of thousands of
Albanians by sea -- presented Albania in an excessively ugly
light. That, however, could prove to be only a foretaste of
reactions to "Wag the Dog."
	The movie is not about Albania, but about the White
House. It begins with a female student claiming sexual
harassment by a fictitious U.S. president just days before
an election. The presidential advisers quickly conclude that
the only way to detract media attention from the scandal is
to start a war. Consequently, the president's public
relations consultant (Robert DeNiro) hires a Hollywood movie
producer (Dustin Hoffman) to start an imaginary war against
Albania, but just for the television screens.
	The character played by DeNiro offers a simple and
clear argument for choosing Albania: "Why not?" He points
out that Albania is the ideal candidate because nobody knows
anything about it and nobody would notice that the war was
purely a Hollywood production. This indifference and
ignorance regarding Albania crop up throughout the movie.
The only picture of Albania is as much a product of the
imagination as the war itself: A young girl running over a
bridge, holding a kitten and crying from fear, as houses
burn and machine guns fire around her.
	That scene is produced in a video studio from several
components, none of which is real. The girl is neither
Albanian nor holding a kitten. In reality, she carries a bag
of potato chips. Her folk costume looks more Russian or
Polish than Balkan. And her hysterical crying against the
background of three Balkan-style houses, an unpaved road in
between, and the bridge are as much computer simulation as
are the smoke and machine gun fire. But the result is
surprisingly realistic.
	In another scene, the president returns from a visit
abroad to a rainy U.S. airport and meets a supposedly
Albanian refugee girl and her mother. In a carefully planned
gesture, he offers his raincoat to them, just as George Bush
did to an elderly lady during a visit to Budapest after the
fall of Communism. The girl says something in a garbled
language that is certainly not Albanian.
	The only scene in the whole movie in which the
Albanian language is spoken--albeit only three words--is a
television interview with the Albanian-U.S. actor Jim
Belushi. Furthermore, the media picture of Albania that has
little, if anything, to do with reality is completed by
several stereotypes, including a group of Islamic
fundamentalist terrorists trying to smuggle a small nuclear
bomb into the U.S. from Albania via Canada.
	The second reason why the movie should not be shown in
Albania is that some Albanian viewers may start believing
that the film reflects U.S. reality. Many may come to think
that successful media manipulation is what democracy is all
about, which would seriously endanger the fragile sense of
democracy that has developed since the fall of Communism in
1991. Also, many Albanians may develop a variety of
conspiracy theories about U.S. policy toward Albania and
thus may mistakenly conclude that Albania really is a key
factor in U.S. politics. A favorite subject of endless and
fruitless debates in Tirana coffee houses is how competition
between the EU and the U.S. is reflected in their respective
policies toward Albania. "Wag the Dog" would add ample fuel
to numerous conspiracy theories on this and similar
questions.
	While some may only mistake the movie as reality,
others may want to make it reality, which leads to the third
reason why it should not be shown here. The biggest danger
is that politicians, journalists, and influential media
representatives in Tirana may be tempted to take a cue from
the movie. In a U.S. context, it is unthinkable that the
film's scenario could actually become reality. CNN's
Christiane Amanpour would quickly land in Tirana to see what
is actually going on.
	But in Albania's still developing media landscape,
mingling fact with fantasy has a much greater chance of
succeeding. Journalism and politics in Tirana are closely
interconnected, and journalistic standards generally remain
low, with much speculation and few hard facts dominating
coverage. Over the centuries, Albanians have developed a
highly sophisticated, Byzantine cynicism about politics.
With computer-video technology currently coming to Albania,
journalists and politicians in the country may soon be able
to "wag the dog" much better than Hollywood, helped by the
lack of ambitious, investigative reporters.
	But in the last analysis, the danger that "Wag the
Dog" will come to Albania is rather remote. Out of Tirana's
eight former cinemas, only one has survived post-communist
privatization. Most of the others have been turned into
bingo parlors, which are more lucrative. The only remaining
cinema shows almost exclusively pornographic and children's
films.

The author is Tirana Project director of the Institute for
Journalism in Transition.

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