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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 107 Part II, 5 June 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 107 Part II, 5 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

* LATVIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES CITIZENSHIP LAW CHANGES IN
SECOND READING

* SERBIAN OFFENSIVE CONTINUES IN KOSOVA

* KOSOVARS CALL OFF TALKS WITH BELGRADE
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REGIONAL AFFAIRS

BLACK SEA ECONOMIC COOPERATION FORUM CONVENES IN YALTA. At a
forum of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC)
organization in Yalta on 5 June, the BSEC leaders signed a
joint declaration and a charter proclaiming the BSEC a
regional economic organization, ITAR-TASS reported.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said in his opening speech
that "the BSEC is transforming into a major component of
Europe's new security system." He added that Ukraine is in
favor of creating a BSEC free-trade zone. The forum is
attended by the presidents of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine as
well as the prime ministers of Greece and Russia. JM

BEREZOVSKII DENIES PLANS TO MOVE CIS HQ. CIS Executive
Secretary Boris Berezovskii told journalists on 4 June that
allegations that he plans to transfer CIS headquarters from
Minsk to Moscow are untrue, Interfax reported. Belarusian
envoy to the CIS Sergei Posokhov had claimed on 3 June that
Berezovskii and his staff had made preparations for such a
move. Posokhov had expressed Belarus's strong opposition to
such an intention. He added that Ukraine, Uzbekistan,
Armenia, and Tajikistan had similarly expressed objections
to that intention. LF

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN MINERS CONTINUE PROTEST. Miners continue to picket
the buildings of the Presidential Administration, the
Supreme Council, and the Cabinet of Ministers in Kyiv,
Ukrainian Television reported on 4 June. Trade unionists
have announced the pickets will remain until the authorities
meet the coal miners' demands that all wage arrears be paid.
Miners picketing the oblast administration building in
Luhansk blocked the traffic in the city center for one hour.
The Coal Miners Independent Trade Union said on 4 June that
45 mines are on strike, while the Ministry of Coal Mining
put the figure at 30. Meanwhile, the parliament has passed a
resolution ordering the government to increase subsidies to
the coal industry by 400 million hryvni ($200 million).
According to a government official quoted by ITAR-TASS, the
government is now drafting a resolution on reducing coal
imports from Russia and Poland. JM

KYIV DAILY LOSES LIBEL CASE AGAINST INTERIOR MINISTER. The
opposition daily "Kiyevskiye vedomosti" has lost a libel
case filed by Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, Ukrainian
Television reported on 4 June. The court ruled that the
newspaper has to pay 5 million hryvni ($2.5 million) in
damages to the minister for falsely accusing him of
corruption. In addition, two journalists are to pay the
minister 27,000 hryvni in damages for writing "incriminating
articles." "This is simply another attempt to stifle the
independent press," a "Kiyevskiye vedomosti" representative
told Ukrainian Television, adding that the newspaper will
appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court. JM

BELARUSIAN LAWMAKERS DEFINE PUNISHMENT FOR INSULTING
PRESIDENT. The Chamber of Representatives, the lower house
of the Belarusian legislature, has passed a bill that
includes insulting, libeling, and slandering the president
as criminal offenses in the penal code and defines the
punishment for those who commit such offenses, Belapan
reported. Submitting the bill to lawmakers, presidential
administration chief Mikhail Myasnikovich said "encroaching
on the honor and dignity of the president does harm not only
to him but also to the prestige of the state and people as a
whole." The bill provides for four years in prison, two
years in a labor camp, or a fine for insulting the
president. It also foresees penalties for using placards in
public places or disseminating information in media that may
be considered detrimental to the president's honor and
dignity. JM

ETHNIC RUSSIAN DEPUTIES REVIVE PARLIAMENTARY GROUP.
Parliamentary deputies from the Russian Party in Estonia,
the Russian Unity Party, and the Estonian United People's
Party have revived their six-strong parliamentary group, ETA
reported on 4 June. The deputies were elected to the
legislature on a joint electoral ticket, but the
parliamentary group broke up in December 1996 owing to
differences between the Russian Unity Party and the Estonian
United People's Party. Valentin Strukov, a member of the
revived parliamentary group, said that the Russian parties
reached a "compromise that they must continue based on the
principle of partnership." JC

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES CITIZENSHIP LAW CHANGES IN
SECOND READING. After voting against considering amendments
to the citizenship law as an urgent measure (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 3 June 1998), the parliament on 4 June approved
the draft in the second reading by a vote of 57 to 16 with
one abstention, BNS reported. The third and final reading of
the bill is expected to take place before the parliamentary
summer recess begins later this month. Lawmakers who voted
against the draft were from the For Latvia party and the
Fatherland and Freedom party. Under the amendments, which
comply with OSCE recommendations, children of non-citizens
born in Latvia after 21 August 1991 would automatically be
granted citizenship if their parents requested it. Also on 4
June, "Diena" published a letter from British Prime Minister
Tony Blair urging his Latvian counterpart, Guntars Krasts,
to help ensure that Latvian law and practice "fully conforms
with the standards of international society." JC

SLOVAK OPPOSITION CONVENES ROUNDTABLE TALKS. The leaders of
the main opposition parties on 4 June agreed that if they
succeed in ousting incumbent Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar
from power in September, they will change the constitutional
provision on presidential elections to elect the head of
state by popular vote, Reuters reported. The leaders of the
Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), the Hungarian Coalition,
the Party of the Democratic Left, and the Party of Civic
Understanding said after roundtable talks in Bratislava that
they will not form any pre-electoral coalition and will
compete independently in the elections. But SDK leader
Mikulas Dzurinda said the roundtable was a "signal that the
parties are close to each other on the main questions
concerning the [country's] post-electoral direction." MS

HUNGARY'S SMALLHOLDERS THREATEN TO STAY OUT OF COALITION.
Independent Smallholders' Party (FKGP) Chairman Jozsef
Torgyan told Hungarian media on 4 June that his party will
remain in opposition unless a "super-ministry" for
developing the provinces is established and controlled by
the FKGP. Torgyan's threat follows Federation of Young
Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP) leader Viktor
Orban's statement the previous day that the countryside is
not the "fiefdom" of any party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4
June 1998). Both Torgyan and FIDESZ-MPP Deputy Chairman
Janos Ader confirmed that coalition talks between the two
parties will not start until next week. In other news, after
meeting with representatives of all parties that won
parliamentary seats, President Arpad Goncz announced the
inaugural session of the parliament will begin on 18 June.
MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN OFFENSIVE CONTINUES IN KOSOVA. The Decan region of
western Kosova remains sealed off, as Serbian paramilitary
and army forces continue assaults on ethnic Albanian
villages, Western agencies reported on 4 June. Electricity
and phone lines remain cut in the area, and reporters,
international observers, and humanitarian workers are being
kept out. Serbian officials said some 40 people, including
two Serbian policemen, were killed in the latest operation,
which, they added, rooted out fighters from the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) and secured roads from Prishtina to
Pec and from Pec to Djakovica. Several sources in Belgrade
estimate casualties to be much higher, although no
independent figures are available. Serbian forces are
reported to be amassing near Glodjane and Jablanica, reputed
to be a UCK stronghold. A Serbian provincial administrator
in Kosova told B-92 radio in Belgrade that "talk of
expelling people is speculation" and that ethnic Albanians
have "cleansed entire villages" of Serbs. About 50,000
people are estimated to have been displaced by the military
action. PB

REFUGEES FLOOD ALBANIA, MONTENEGRO. Some 12,000 Kosovar
refugees were reported to have entered northern Albania by 4
June, with another 7,000 entering Montenegro. Albanian
Television reported on 4 June that over the past several
days, only 4,000 refugees have officially registered in
Albania. It appealed to all other refugees to do so. The
UNHCR in Geneva said some 6,500 refugees had arrived in
Albania by 4 June, but some Albanian media reports cite
figures of up to 15,000. According to a Red Cross spokesman
in Tirana, some 80 percent of the refugees are women and
children and about half of them are under 15 years of age,
"Koha Jone" reported. FS

KINKEL CALLS FOR NATO FORCE ON KOSOVA-ALBANIA BORDER...
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said NATO must decide
quickly whether to send NATO troops to Albania to prevent
the violence from spreading. Kinkel, speaking at a
conference in Palermo, said the alliance's first option is
to create a "cordon sanitaire." Kinkel warned Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic that once there, NATO troops
could intervene in Kosova if the situation became
"absolutely chaotic." Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo,
speaking at the Black Sea Economic Cooperation conference in
Yalta, said Kosova is on the brink of an "open war" and that
the West has given Milosevic more of a "carrot than a
stick." PB

...BUT MOSCOW PREFERS UN MONITORS. Russian Foreign Ministry
deputy spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin told Interfax on 4
June that Russia has proposed that a UN force now operating
in Macedonia should be used to monitor the border between
Albania and Kosova. He added that the Russian government
opposes the use of NATO troops because it "could set a
dangerous precedent of using the alliance's troops outside
the scope of the organization's activity, without
authorization by the UN Security Council." PG

KOSOVARS CALL OFF TALKS WITH BELGRADE. Ethnic Albanian
leaders suspended talks with Serbian officials scheduled for
5 June, citing the recent Serbian offensive and the flight
of refugees to Albania, Reuters reported. Fehmi Agani said
the "escalation of force" is in "contradiction with the
spirit of the talks." Serbian sources said the delegation
from Belgrade will arrive in Prishtina as scheduled, despite
the Kosovars' announcement. The U.S. envoy to the region,
Robert Gelbard, said he will attempt to reinstate the talks
so that the situation does not "unravel further." Kosovar
Albanian shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova canceled a
visit to various European cities and returned to Prishtina
because of the worsening situation. PB

MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT REFUSES TO SEND SOLDIERS TO KOSOVA.
Milo Djukanovic told the Madrid daily "El Mondo" recently
that if the federal Yugoslav army takes part in fighting in
Kosova, he will request a Montenegrin parliament vote
banning the participation of Montenegrin soldiers. Albanian
Television quoted Djukanovic as saying that "I consider this
a private war of [federal Yugoslav President Slobodan]
Milosevic, and for his private wars, we will not sacrifice
the lives of our Montenegrin soldiers." As of 3 June, some
150 Montenegrin soldiers had refused orders to go to the
region since the current crisis began in February. FS

NATO TEAM IN MACEDONIA. A 40-member team of NATO experts
arrived on 4 June in Macedonia to assess the border
situation there, AFP reported. Macedonian Defense Minister
Lazar Kitanoski told reporters that NATO's presence in the
country "would depend on the UN Security Council." The team
is expected to travel to Albania in a few days, a Pentagon
spokesman said. PB

ALBANIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEGISLATORS SHOT AT. Unidentified
gunmen shot at a car carrying legislators Azem Hajdari and
Vili Minarolli in the city of Bajram Curri on 3 June. The
two lawmakers were unhurt, but another passenger, Bardhyl
Pollo, the former director-general of Albanian Radio and
Television, was injured. Also traveling in the car was the
wife of former President Sali Berisha. "Rilindja
Demokratike" said the Albanian government and the federal
Yugoslav secret service were behind the attack, but "Gazeta
Shqiptare" quoted unnamed observers as saying the gunmen
were from an unspecified large northern clan that is
fighting with the Hajdari clan for control over the city. FS

WORLD BANK APPROVES CREDIT FOR BOSNIA...The World Bank
approved a $63 million loan for Bosnia-Herzegovina on 4 June
after the IMF approved the country's macroeconomic program,
dpa reported. The money is to be used to reform public
finances and help Bosnia keep up with foreign debts.
Christian Portman, the World Bank director in Bosnia, said
the loan marks the move from "reconstruction to
consolidating institutions." PB

...AS U.S. SUSPENDS ARMY TRAINING PROGRAM. The U.S. State
Department has suspended part of the "Train and Equip"
program for the Muslim-Croat Federation army, dpa reported
on 4 June. The Bosnian government refused to confirm that
report, but diplomats are quoted as saying that the Bosnian
Croats' refusal to accept joint state symbols, neutral
license plates, or the integration of the Muslim-Croat
police are the reasons for the stoppage. Officials are also
upset with Bosnian officials' weak efforts in allowing non-
Muslims to return to Sarajevo. Those parts of the program
suspended are reported to include training of new soldiers
and the allocation of military equipment. PB

TEACHERS STRIKE IN CROATIA. Elementary and high-school
teachers nationwide staged a one-day strike on 4 June to
protest the government's refusal to raise their salaries. It
was the second strike in two weeks and occurred during end-
of-year examinations. Croatian government officials
originally approved a 12.5 percent pay raise but then backed
down on 3 June citing a lack of funds. Teachers unions are
threatening to extend the strike if the government does not
keep its pledge. PB

ETHNIC HUNGARIANS THREATEN TO LEAVE ROMANIAN COALITION. Bela
Marko, chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania (UDMR), said on 4 June his formation will leave the
ruling coalition if the parliament fails to approve during
the current session demands that the UDMR had earlier agreed
on with its partners. He pointed to amendments to the laws
on education and local administration, as well as the
setting up of a Hungarian-language university, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. Marko also criticized the slow
pace of reform and the absence of a permanent coordination
body where coalition party leaders could discuss
differences. The UDMR chairman said his formation "is not
engaging in blackmail but in a realistic assessment of the
tasks ahead." MS

ROMANIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTIES QUARREL. Sergiu Cunescu,
leader of the Social Democratic Party of Romania (PSDR),
said on 4 June that his party has "absolutely no intention"
of leaving the government. The previous day, a spokesman for
the Alliance for Romania (APR) party had urged to PSDR to
take that move. Cunescu said that from the start, the
agreement between the PSDR and the APR was on cooperation
within the parliament and not on a merger between the two
formations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1998). Meanwhile,
Paula Ivanescu, deputy chairwoman of the Democratic Party,
has told journalists that the Social Democratic Union, which
her party and the PSDR formed before the November 1996
election, has "in practice" ceased to function, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported on 4 June. MS

BULGARIA TO RETURN ROYAL ASSETS. The Constitutional Court on
4 June ruled that the state must return property and assets
confiscated from the country's royal family in 1947, AFP
reported. The ruling comes as Princess Marie-Louise, sister
of former King Simeon II, is paying a visit to her homeland.
The assets include a palace in Sofia, a villa, the winter
resort of Borovetz, three chalets, a farm,. and a house. In
other news, 86-year-old former communist dictator Todor
Zhivkov has been released from hospital, where he was
treated for three weeks following a "diabetes crisis," dpa
reported, citing the daily "24 Chasa." MS

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