|Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened. - Sir Winston Churchill|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 106 Part II, 4 June 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 106 Part II, 4 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) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * HUNGARY'S ORBAN REBUFFS SMALLHOLDERS * REFUGEES CONTINUE TO POUR INTO ALBANIA * ALBANIAN PREMIER CALLS ON NATO FOR HELP End Note: A RENEWED SOURCE OF NATIONALISM xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS TO ELECT SPEAKER FOR FOURTH TIME... In a fourth round of voting for parliamentary speaker, Social Democrat Leonid Kravchuk received 193 votes, Communist Petro Symonenko 168, and Hromada party candidate Mykola Haber 31, Ukrainian Television reported. Eight deputies voted against all three candidates. Since none of the candidates gained the necessary 226 votes, the election was declared invalid. The four right-centrist parties that until now have abstained from taking part in the election supported Kravchuk (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 1998). JM ...WHILE PRESIDENT THREATENS TO FORM LEFTIST GOVERNMENT. Leonid Kuchma on 3 June said that if either Socialist Oleksandr Moroz or Communist Petro Symonenko is elected parliamentary speaker, he will ask the successful candidate to form the Cabinet of Ministers and assume responsibility for "the entire nation," Interfax reported. "That will be a horrible experiment, but without this experiment it would be simply impossible to dot all the 'i's.'" Kuchma commented. Kuchma added that Kravchuk could be a "proper" speaker. In his opinion, the leaders of the main parliamentary groups should agree on a "package solution" to electing a speaker and his deputies. JM KUCHMA MEETS VATICAN SECRETARY OF STATE. The Ukrainian president on 3 June met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, who is currently on an official visit to Ukraine, Ukrainian Television reported. Both officials noted "the deepening of relations between the two states." Ukraine has 4.5 million Uniates (Eastern rite Catholics loyal to Rome) and 500,000 Roman Catholics. One of Sodano's goals was to discuss a possible visit by Pope John Paul II to Ukraine. The cardinal told Ukrainian Television that the pope's visit is "a question of the future.... I am sure that the pope will come because he wants to and he continually mentions Ukraine in his prayers." JM UNCLAIMED PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS TO GO TO BUDGET. Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko on 3 June said that the government has decided to transfer to the Ministry of Industrial Policy those privatization vouchers that were not claimed by Ukrainian citizens, ITAR-TASS reported. The unclaimed vouchers are worth more than 2.2 billion hryvni. Pustovoytenko believes they can be put into circulation and result in budget revenues worth 22 million hryvni in the near future. JM YOUNG BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST RELEASED. Pavel Sevyarynets, the leader of the opposition Belarusian Youth Front, was unexpectedly released from jail on 3 June on his own recognizance. The previous day, the authorities had extended his jail sentence by one month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 June 1998), and Sevyarynets had been preparing to launch a hunger strike, Belapan reported. Sevyarynets has agreed not to leave his hometown of Vitsebsk until an investigation into his case has been completed. He is charged with "malicious hooliganism" during the 2 April rally protesting the Russia-Belarus union and faces a maximum prison sentence of five years. RFE/RL Belarusian Service reported that the release order came from the Belarusian Security Council. JM BELARUS EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT INDIAN, PAKISTANI NUCLEAR TESTS. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement expressing "alarm and concern" over recent nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan, "Zvyazda" reported on 3 June. The statement calls on all countries with nuclear military programs to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty if they have not already done so and to draw up a treaty banning the production of fissionable materials for nuclear weapons. The ministry also repeated Belarus's proposal to create a nuclear-free zone in Central and Eastern Europe. According to that proposal, all non-nuclear countries would undertake not to have nuclear weapons deployed on their territory. JM LATVIAN PRESIDENT URGES ADOPTION OF AMENDMENTS TO CITIZENSHIP LAW. Guntis Ulmanis has urged the parliament to adopt the government's proposals for amending the citizenship law before the end of the legislature's spring session, BNS reported on 3 June. In a statement issued one day before the parliament is scheduled to vote on those amendments, Ulmanis said their adoption would be a "sign that we ourselves create the policy of inclusion of noncitizens in our country. Nothing could be more dangerous than leaving the integration of noncitizens to drift." Latvia's Way, the National Reform Party, and the Farmers' Union/Christian-Democrats have all said they will support the amendments, and the Democratic Party Saimnieks is expected to give its backing. The Fatherland and Freedom party has said it will vote against the amendments, but "Diena" speculates that opposition support may be sufficient for them to pass. JC DEADLOCK CONTINUES OVER POLAND'S SCREENING PROCESS. Right- and left-wing deputies are winding up the parliamentary discussion over the procedure for screening top state officials, "Zycie Warszawy" reported on 4 June. Under the 1997 screening law, officials are obliged to submit written declarations as to whether they collaborated with the Communist-era secret services. The ruling coalition of the Solidarity Electoral Action and the Freedom Union proposes to appoint a public interest watchdog and have the Warsaw Appeals Court review the declarations. The opposition Democratic Left Alliance, however, is strongly opposed to those proposals. The current deadlock has resulted from the refusal by judges to sit on a screening panel, which is stipulated in the 1997 law. The voting on the proposed amendments to the law is expected this week. JM CZECH ELECTION CAMPAIGN OFFICIALLY STARTS. A two-week official election campaign officially started in the Czech Republic on 3 June, Reuters reported. Former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told a rally of his Civic Democratic Party in Prague that the campaign "is about keeping our freedoms and democracy." Christian Democratic Union chairman Josef Lux told journalists in Prostejov, southern Moravia, that he "firmly believes" a coalition between his party, the Social Democratic Party (CSSD), and the Freedom Union is a "realistic possibility" after the elections. Both Milos Zeman, the leader of the CSSD, and Freedom Union chairman Jan Ruml have rejected that idea. The far-right Republican Party on 3 June announced it will field candidates in every electoral district, CTK reported. MS HUNGARY'S ORBAN REBUFFS SMALLHOLDERS. Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP) chair Viktor Orban on 3 June told the party's parliamentary group that development of the provinces cannot be the "fiefdom" of a single party. His remarks came after repeated calls by the Independent Smallholders (FKGP) for control of a "super- ministry" for the development of the countryside in the new government coalition. Orban said it is inconceivable that the provinces would belong to one party and the rest of the country to another. He concluded that even if FIDESZ-MPP starts coalition talks with the FKGP next week, his party will still be the most powerful in Hungary's cabinet. Orban's chief of staff, Andor Nagy, said Orban is not averse to meeting with FKGP chairman Jozsef Torgyan, but the meeting can take place only after preparatory talks. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE REFUGEES CONTINUE TO POUR INTO ALBANIA. Thousands of Kosovar refugees continue to stream into Albania to escape the artillery barrage leveled against several villages in northwestern Kosova over the last five days. Milaim Cengo, an official of the Tropoje region, said there is a constant flow of people arriving in the region. The Kosovar refugees are now being forced to go to Bajram Curri because Tropoje is overwhelmed with people. "Koha Jone" reported that some 10,000 Kosovars fled to Albania by 3 June. "Shekulli," however, quotes an unnamed Interior Ministry official as saying that 15,000 have arrived so far and that tens of thousands more are on their way. The same day, a government delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Bashkim Fino left for northern Albania to assess the needs of the refugees. FS/PB ALBANIAN PREMIER CALLS ON NATO FOR HELP... In a letter sent to NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana on 3 June, Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano asked the alliance to step up its involvement in northern Albania. Nano asked for NATO to supply food and medicine to refugees who have crossed into Albania. He added: "I am convinced that the time has now come in which the international community must not only share our concerns but also act united and with force to ensure the protection of Kosova's innocent citizens and of peace in the region." Nano also said that "Serbian commando teams" have made incursions into Albania to "scout the area." Meanwhile, the Socialist Party's Foreign Relations Secretary, Maqo Lakrori, told a press conference in Tirana the same day that the armed resistance of Kosova Albanians is "legitimate self-defense against Serbian repression and massacres" and the only protection against "ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians," "Koha Jone" reported. FS/PB ...WHILE ALLIANCE SAYS THOROUGH PLANNING NEEDED. Solana said on 3 June that NATO is keeping "all options open" in regard to the tense situation in Kosova. The alliance's 16 permanent ambassadors, meeting in Brussels, agreed they will send reconnaissance teams to Macedonia and Albania to review plans for any troop deployment but that any military operation will have to be thoroughly planned, AFP reported. NATO defense ministers will meet in Brussels on 11 June for further discussions. At a meeting in Palermo, the foreign ministers of 12 European countries warned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to stop the killing. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said Milosevic "has to learn that he will be hit with strong measures." U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said at a press conference in Washington with his British counterpart, George Robertson, that military action is a "last resort" for dealing with the crisis. U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin said that the U.S. could reimpose some economic sanctions if the violence continues. PB RUGOVA APPEALS TO ITALY FOR HELP. Kosovar Albanian shadow- state President Ibrahim Rugova was in Rome on 3 June for talks with Italian officials. Rugova was reportedly trying to get Rome to put pressure on Yugoslav President Milosevic to stop the violence. Skender Hyseni, a Rugova spokesman, said the renewed violence is a "bad omen" that ethnic cleansing has begun. In Geneva, the International Committee of the Red Cross asked Serbian authorities on 3 June for "immediate and unimpeded access" to the Decan area of Kosova, where most of the violence took place. Reports from refugees arriving in Albania claim that thousands of people are either walking toward the border or hiding in the forests. PB BELGRADE-PRISHTINA TALKS TO CONTINUE? Fehmi Agani, the head of the Kosovar Albanian negotiating team, said on 3 June that talks between ethnic Albanian Kosova leaders and Yugoslav officials could begin on 5 June. But he added that the talks and hopes for finding a peaceful solution to the crisis are jeopardized by the deterioration of the situation since the latest Serbian offensive in the Decan region, Beta reported. PB UN SECRETARY-GENERAL WANTS FORCE IN MACEDONIA STRENGTHENED. Kofi Annan said in a report to the UN Security Council on 3 June that he recommends "an expanded international presence in the region." Annan noted that in light of the upsurge in violence in Kosova, the 750 UN troops in Macedonia have increased patrols along the border with the Serbian province, established around the clock observation posts, and started boat patrols on the Ohrid and Prespa lakes. He said such increased activity cannot be sustained over a long period at the present troop strength. PB BOSNIAN SERB, MUSLIM-CROAT POLICE SIGN COOPERATION ACCORD. Muslim-Croat Federation Interior Minister Mehmet Zilic and his Bosnian Serb counterpart, Milovan Stankovic, pledged on 3 June that their respective police forces will jointly fight organized crime and uphold all Bosnians' rights. The accord, signed in the presence of Elizabeth Rehn, the UN envoy to Bosnia, envisages cooperation in providing security for all citizens and "preventing infringements of freedom of movement and civil rights." Stankovic said the two police forces will cooperate in breaking up country-wide crime syndicates but will not be involved in the apprehension of war crimes suspects. PB ROMANIAN COALITION RESUMES BICKERING. The leadership of the ruling National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) on 2 June debated friction within the party after Prime Minister Radu Vasile complained last week that groups within the PNTCD want the government "to have the same fate as the cabinet headed by [Victor] Ciorbea." Vasile's remarks were later criticized by PNTCD deputy chairmen Mircea Ciumara and Remus Opris. PNTCD leader Ion Diaconescu said criticism is permitted within the leadership, but he added that once a decision is reached, all members must respect it, while those who fail to do so must face disciplinary action. The leadership also discussed tense relations with the Democratic Party, following the decision taken last week by Industry and Trade Minister Radu Berceanu to replace the heads of several utilities companies with professionals. Leading members of the PNTCD have complained that the move violated the coalition agreement, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS FUTURE OF ROMANIAN SOCIALIST PARTIES' ALLIANCE QUESTIONED. Alliance for Romania (APR) deputy chairman Marian Enache told journalists on 3 June that the envisaged merger between his formation and the Social Democratic Party (PSDR) will be possible only if the PSDR quits the ruling coalition, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The PSDR National Council on 31 May approved a resolution to continue talks with the APR on the eventual merger of the two formations. MS ROMANIAN SENATE TO DEBATE TUDOR'S PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY. Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica on 3 June asked Senate chairman Petre Roman to convene the house to debate lifting the parliamentary immunity of Greater Romania Party Chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor. Tudor is accused of insulting President Emil Constantinescu and of slandering Roman, another senator, and several other persons. MS TRANSDNIESTER LEADERSHIP ATTACKS NEW MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT. Grigorii Marakutsa, chairman of the Transdniester Supreme Soviet, has said Ion Ciubuc's cabinet is aiming at "Romanianizing the Moldovan Republic and unifying it with Romania," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 3 June . Marakutsa said "key ministerial posts" in Chisinau are now "occupied by those responsible for the outbreak of the armed conflict in 1992." He added that this "explains why the Moldovan side is rejecting our proposal for a mutual reduction of forces." He said Moldovan expectations of "setting up a unitary state" on both banks of River Dniester have "no chance" because they ignore the fact that the "Transdniester Republic has been existing for several years." Marakutsa warned that if Chisinau does not renounce "its insistence on a joint indivisible state," the separatists might "renounce our confederate state program and orient ourselves to setting up a fully independent state." MS STOYANOV SAYS BALKAN FUTURE DEPENDS ON KOSOVA SOLUTION. Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov on 3 June told journalists after a meeting of the National Security Council that the future of the whole Balkan region depends on a peaceful solution to the conflict in Kosova, Reuters reported. He said the council concluded that there is "no direct threat" of Bulgaria's being drawn into the conflict. But it noted that the conflict itself poses "numerous dangers, including ethnic and religious strife and an upsurge in crime," and endangers the Balkans' economic development and integration into the EU and NATO. MS BULGARIAN ROMA END PROTEST. The group of Bulgarian Roma protesting against discrimination and non-payment of unemployment and family benefits reached an agreement with the authorities on 3 June following a 10-day fast, AFP reported. Under the agreement, benefits owed since the beginning of the year will be disbursed immediately. Jobs will also be created for unemployed Roma in the town of Lom, where the protest took place. In other news, Trade Minister Valentin Vasilev on 3 June announced that Bulgaria will join the Central European Free Trade Agreement next month, Reuters reported. MS END NOTE A RENEWED SOURCE OF NATIONALISM by Paul Goble Environmental disasters--some left over from Soviet times, others the product of the actions of weak new governments, and still others the result of the activities of foreign firms--may reignite nationalist passions in many post-Soviet states. There are three reasons behind this somewhat surprising conclusion. First, as a recently released poll shows, citizens in the post-Soviet states appear even more concerned about the environment than are residents of other countries around the world. Second, the leaders of many of the national movements in these countries started as environmental activists in Soviet times and thus are now simply returning to their roots as a result of new ecological disasters . And third, the media have focused increasing attention on such disasters, especially when corrupt local officials or foreign firms appear to be to blame. The United States Information Agency last month released the results of two surveys its researchers conducted in late 1997 in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan on popular attitudes toward environomental issues. Those polls found that majorities in all three countries--including more than 65 percent in Russia--said they favored protecting the environment even if doing so meant that they would have to put up with slower economic growth. Such support for environmental activism would be impressive anywhere; it is especially striking in countries whose economic situation is anything but good. In addition, the survey showed that the citizens of these three countries were extremely critical of what their respective governments were doing to clean up environmental pollution. Some 70 percent of Kazakhs, 85 percent of Russians, and a similar percentage of Ukrainians felt their national governments were doing a poor job in this respect. Not surprisingly, politicians both in power and in opposition are sensitive to such attitudes, seeing them either as a threat or an opportunity. And that is particularly the case with those political figures who began their careers as spokesmen for ecological causes in Soviet times. In the 1960s and 1970s, environmental concerns were among the few issues that opposition groups, especially in the non-Russian regions, could raise without falling afoul of the Soviet state. Many of these environmental activists subsequently became active in the preservation of historical monuments when that became possible. And later still, they adopted an openly nationalist agenda as the Soviet state crumbled around them. Now in the post-Soviet environment, these same people are drawing strength from others appalled by the environmental degradation visited upon them by past Soviet practices, by the failure of their own governments to prevent new disasters, and by the poor ecological record of many Western firms now operating in these countries. And just as in Soviet times, they are focusing attention not so much on the environment in general but rather on conditions in their own country or even in one part of it. According to the USIA poll, only one person in 50 was concerned about global climate change, but virtually everyone was worried about more immediate environmental degradation. The media in these countries are playing up these issues, frequently with an increasingly nationalist gloss directed either at the Soviet past, an uncaring and corrupt local regime, or foreign firms. Recently, for example, the press in Kyrgyzstan has called attention to the environmental disaster visited on that country's Lake Issyk- Kul by a Kyrgyz-Canadian gold-mining concern. Ukrainian media have continued to discuss the fallout from the Chornobyl nuclear accident, a disaster made all the worse by Soviet policies and the West's unwillingness to help. And the Georgian media have raised questions about the consequences for that country if Turkey builds a dam on the border between the two countries. Many both in the West and in these countries may be inclined to dismiss such concerns as relatively unimportant to the political life of this region. But the experience of these countries in the past and the intense feelings that environmental issues can still arouse point to a different conclusion. They suggest that future environmental disasters in this region may quickly lead to a nationalist response, particularly if those responsible are individuals and groups from abroad. That conclusion, in turn, indicates that anyone seeking to do business with those countries must be especially environmentally responsible to avoid unleashing a popular movement that no one will be able to control. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word "subscribe" as the subject or body of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word "unsubscribe" as the subject or body of the message. 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