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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 114 Part II, 16 June 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 114 Part II, 16 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

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Headlines, Part II

* HUNGARIAN FAR-RIGHT PARTY CAN FORM PARLIAMENTARY GROUP

* YELTSIN, MILOSEVIC MEET

* NATO, RUSSIA DIFFER ON MANEUVERS

End Note: POWER COUNTERVAILING AND OTHERWISE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

GAZPROM CUTS GAS SUPPLIES TO BELARUS BY 40 PERCENT. Russia's
gas monopoly notified Belarus on 15 June that it will cut
gas supplies to the republic by 40 percent beginning 16
June, Belapan reported. The reason for the reduction is
Belarus's debt to Gazprom, which totals $240 million. In
April, Gazprom and Belarus agreed that Minsk will repay 26
percent of that debt in hard currency and 74 percent in
goods (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 April 1998). Belarus has
been able only to partly fulfill the repayment agreement.
ITAR-TASS on 16 June quoted a source in the Belarusian
government as saying the reduction in gas supplies "has not
broken the usual life rhythm in the republic."JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONIST SENTENCED TO 10 DAYS FOR GRAFFITI.
A Minsk court has found journalist and former Supreme Soviet
deputy Valeryy Shchukin guilty of petty hooliganism and
sentenced him to 10 days in prison, RFE/RL's Belarusian
Service reported on 15 June. Shchukin, a Communist Party
member, was accused of defacing the Interior Ministry
building by spray-painting the words "Free Andrey Klimau" on
it. Klimau, a former deputy, has spent the last four month
in prison on charges of grand larceny. Shchukin's sentence
is mild compared with that handed down to 21-year-old
Aleksey Shydlouski, who was found guilty of criminal
hooliganism for a similar offense and is now serving an 18-
month prison term. JM

BELARUS SIGNS 10 COOPERATION ACCORDS WITH EGYPT. On the
second day of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's
official visit to Egypt, 10 economic cooperation accords
were signed between the two countries, dpa reported on 16
June. Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa who attended two
rounds of Lukashenka's talks with Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak, told the German agency that the talks focused on
bilateral ties, mainly in trade and investment. Lukashenka
also expressed his country's interest in joining the
movement of non-aligned countries. JM

STRIKING MINERS MAY LEAVE KYIV. Mykhaylo Volynets, leader of
the Independent Coal Miners Trade Union, has said miners
from Pavlovhrad who are picketing government buildings in
Kyiv may go home if the government pays some of the money
owed to them, Interfax reported. Volynets said the
government has promised to pay some 17 million hryvni ($8.2
million) in back wages and offered a loan of 30 million
hryvni to the striking miners. However, Deputy Coal Industry
Minister Volodymyr Radchenko said on national television
that it would be "incorrect and unjust" to pay overdue wages
only to the Pavlovhrad miners and leave the payment problem
unresolved at other mines. JM

LATVIA TO INCREASE DEFENSE BUDGET. Latvia will increase its
defense budget to 1 percent of GDP by 1999 and to 2 percent
by 2003, according to a document on Latvia's integration
into European and Euro-Atlantic security structures (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 1998). The document, which was
discussed by the government on 15 June, states that the
current defense budget of 0.67 percent of GDP does not allow
Latvia to sufficiently develop its armed forces and is
impairing the country's chances of integration into NATO.
Noting that Latvia spends less on its armed forces than
either Lithuania or Estonia, President Guntis Ulmanis said
the insufficient defense budget will make it difficult for
him to discuss Latvia's readiness for NATO membership with
Secretary-General Javier Solana, who is due to visit all
three Baltic States this week, BNS and Interfax reported. JC

LITHUANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON NATO EXPANSION. Ceslovas
Stankevicius on 15 June said that Russia's opposition to
NATO enlargement is "unjustified." He told Interfax that
neither Lithuania's membership in NATO nor expansion of the
alliance as a whole will pose a threat to Russia's security.
"Our position remains unchanged: we are preparing for
membership in the alliance," he said. Stankevicius's
comments follow Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov's
statement on the weekend in Vilnius that the Baltic States'
membership in NATO would be "unacceptable" to Russia (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1998). JC

POLAND TRIES OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE FOR WORKERS' MASSACRE IN
1970. Following two years of preliminary procedures, the
trial of former communist officials accused of complicity in
the December 1970 workers' massacre has begun in Gdansk.
Seven persons are charged with the murder of 44 people
during protests in Polish coastal cities in 1970. The cases
of five other defendants, including then Defense Minister
Wojciech Jaruzelski, will be examined in separate trials
because of the defendants' poor health, Polish Radio
reported. JM

U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY URGES POLAND TO MAINTAIN MILITARY
SPENDING. William Cohen said during his visit to Warsaw on
15 June that Poland should maintain its current military
spending or even increase it if the Polish economy continues
to grow, Reuters reported. Cohen met with Prime Minister
Jerzy Buzek and Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz to
discuss Poland's integration with NATO, the Kosova conflict,
and the purchase of multi-purpose fighter aircraft. He
praised the pace of bringing the Polish military up to NATO
standards and stressed that the country should improve,
above all, its communications networks and the English-
language skills of its officers before purchasing expensive
new weapons systems. JM

CZECH ROM HOSPITALIZED AFTER SKINHEAD ATTACK. A 24-year-old
Romani man was hospitalized in Kolin, central Bohemia, on 14
June after being attacked at the local train station by a
young skinhead, CTK reported on the next day. Police
arrested the skinhead, who claimed he attacked the man
because "he was giving me evil looks," on charges of
hooliganism and grievous bodily harm. MS

AUSTRIA WANTS GOOD RELATIONS WITH SLOVAKIA. Helmut Wessely,
a high-ranking official at the Austrian Foreign Ministry,
told an RFE/RL correspondent on 15 June that Vienna has no
intentions of withdrawing its ambassador to Bratislava in
connection with the activation of the controversial Mochovce
nuclear plant and wants "good relations" with all its
neighbors. Wessely said Vienna does not want to "dictate"
Bratislava how to meet its energy needs, but he added that
the safety of the Mochovce plant is a "prime concern" to
Austria because of the facility's location close to the
border. He added that officials from the two countries will
meet at the offices of the International Atomic Energy
Agency in Vienna on 19 June to further discuss safety
issues. MS

HUNGARIAN FAR-RIGHT PARTY CAN FORM PARLIAMENTARY GROUP. The
Constitutional Court on 15 June ruled that the Hungarian
Justice and Life Party (MIEP) can form a parliamentary
group, despite house rules requiring parties to have at
least 15 parliamentary seats to form a faction. The court
ruled that "every party that passes the 5 percent threshold
has the right to form a parliamentary group and the house
rule prohibiting this is unconstitutional." MIEP won 14
seats in the May elections. Also on 15 June, MIEP chairman
Istvan Csurka was elected the leader of the party's
parliamentary group. In other news, the parliamentary group
of the Alliance of Free Democrats elected former party
chairman Gabor Kuncze as its leader. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

YELTSIN, MILOSEVIC MEET. President Boris Yeltsin and his
Yugoslav counterpart, Slobodan Milosevic, held talks in
Moscow on 16 June. Following the meeting, Yeltsin said that
Milosevic agreed to talks with the Kosovar Albanians but did
not elaborate. The previous day, U.S. President Bill Clinton
urged Yeltsin in a 40-minute telephone conversation to make
clear to Milosevic that his position on Kosova is
"precarious." After the Clinton-Yeltsin conversation, a
White House spokesman said that Yeltsin is "much more
anxious to see a diplomatic solution, but I think it's very
clear, and the Russian government knows, that we intend to
proceed with [force] if necessary." The spokesman added that
"Milosevic listens very carefully to what President Yeltsin
has to say." In fact, however, Moscow's influence on
Belgrade has been limited since the collapse of the Soviet
Union. Serbian-Russian relations historically have been
uneven. PM

NATO, RUSSIA DIFFER ON MANEUVERS. Russian Defense Minister
Igor Sergeev said in Moscow on 15 June that NATO officials
did not properly consult him regarding air maneuvers that
the Atlantic alliance staged over Albania and Macedonia the
same day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1998). Following
talks with Sergeev in Moscow, General Hugh Shelton, who is
chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "Russia has
not expressed any concern today about the exercises actually
taking place, just about their timing." Shelton suggested
that the Russians had not expected NATO to carry out so
quickly the decision to hold the maneuvers, which its
defense ministers reached in Brussels on 12 June. Shelton
added that the exercises provided support for Yeltsin in his
negotiations with Milosevic. Sergeev was at NATO
headquarters from 9-12 June. Elsewhere in Moscow on 15 June,
a Russian representative to NATO denied media reports that
Russia has withdrawn its military envoy to NATO to protest
the exercises, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

U.S., KOSOVARS HAIL EXERCISES... In London on 15 June, NATO
Secretary-General Javier Solana said the Milosevic-Yeltsin
talks are the Serbian leader's "last chance" to achieve a
diplomatic solution to the Kosova crisis, the "Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. In Washington, a State
Department spokesman said that the maneuvers were necessary
because diplomacy alone had not proven effective in dealing
with Milosevic, the VOA reported. Kosovar shadow-state
President Ibrahim Rugova said in Prishtina that the
exercises show that "genocide has no future in Europe." PM

...AS DOES ALBANIA. The Albanian government issued a
statement on 15 June welcoming the NATO display of air-power
as a means to "stop the police and military violence by
Belgrade in Kosova and [Belgrade's] notorious policy of
ethnic cleansing." Prime Minister Fatos Nano said "Albania
is ready to put at the disposal of NATO troops all its
logistics and allow flight paths for NATO planes, as was the
case with today's encouraging maneuvers." He also told
visiting Swedish Defense Minister Bjorn von Sydow that "it
is most necessary to stop the Serbian war machine because
the political parties in Kosova cannot negotiate under
present conditions." And President Rexhep Meidani said NATO
air strikes against Serbian targets might be required if
Belgrade's forces continue to attack villages in Kosova. FS

COOK SAYS UN MAJORITY FOR ACTION. British Foreign Secretary
Robin Cook said in London on 16 June that "there is
absolutely no doubt there is a great majority in the
Security Council for a resolution" in support of military
intervention to resolve the conflict in Kosova. He added
that NATO did not mislead Russia regarding its air maneuvers
over Albania and Macedonia (see above). "I'm not entirely
sure that is something [the Russians] really can stand up.
After all, there was a Russian representative, currently
attached to Brussels. He was aware of the discussions that
took place last week." Meanwhile in Beijing, a Foreign
Ministry spokesman said that "as a sovereign country,
Yugoslavia's sovereignty and territorial integrity should be
respected. China does not agree to outside interference with
military force" in the Kosova question. PM

EU SENDS ULTIMATUM TO MILOSEVIC. EU leaders issued a
declaration in Cardiff on 15 June to demand that Milosevic
end attacks on civilians, withdraw his armed forces from
Kosova, admit international monitors to the province, allow
refugees to go home, and launch talks with Kosovar
representatives. The text stated that "no state that uses
brutal military repression against its own citizens can
expect to find a place in modern Europe." The document added
that "an immediate cessation of violence will be required as
well from the Kosova Albanian side. The EU will play its
part in stopping the flow of money and weapons to Kosova
Albanian armed groups." EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans
van den Broek said that the key issue is to end "a situation
on the ground where innocent men, women and children are
being slaughtered," regardless of whether the UN gives NATO
a mandate to do so. PM

UCK SETS CONDITIONS FOR TALKS. Jakup Krasniqi, who is the
main spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), said on
Albanian Television on 15 June that negotiations with Serbia
can be held on three conditions: the prior withdrawal of
Serbian armed forces from Kosova, international mediation
for talks, and "proper preparation" of the negotiations. It
is unclear whether he would accept Rugova's current
negotiating team as the Kosovars' representative or whether
Krasniqi would insist that the UCK also participate. He said
only that "political pluralism among Albanians in Kosova is
now a luxury." The Serbian authorities are unlikely to enter
into any talks with the UCK, which they call "separatist and
terrorist." PM

UCK ACTIVITIES IN ALBANIA INCREASE. Foxton William, who is
the OSCE representative in Bajram Curri, told dpa on 15 June
that "last night...300 fighters with horses loaded with
weapons crossed the border into Kosova." The statement is in
line with other media reports that UCK fighters are using
the Tropoja region as a safe haven and training base. The
dpa reporters also saw vans transporting armed, young UCK
recruits into Kosova. One UCK fighter said that "we are
getting better armed and better organized with each passing
day." Persistent but unconfirmed reports suggest that the
UCK has been using the family home of former Albanian
President Sali Berisha as an operational base and arsenal
for the past several months. FS

REFUGEES CONTINUE TO ARRIVE IN ALBANIA. An unnamed Western
official in Bajram Curri told Reuters on 15 June that 365
refugees crossed into Albania that day. The refugees
reported that Serbian helicopter gunships attacked their
village the previous day. Other refugees told reporters that
Serbian infantry and helicopters followed them up to the
border in the night from 14-15 June. They added that some
3,000 people fled the village of Junik over the weekend and
that many of them remain trapped in the mountains because
Serbian forces are now patrolling some of the paths refugees
previously took to cross the border. FS

UN ORGANIZATIONS CALL FOR HELP. In Geneva on 16 June, the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, and
four other UN aid agencies issued a joint emergency call to
international donors for $18 million to help cope with the
Kosova refugee crisis. UNHCR representatives said that
13,000 refugees have recently arrived in Albania and 9,000
in Montenegro. An estimated 45,000 are displaced within
Kosova itself but do not fall under the mandate of the
UNHCR. UNHCR chief Sadako Ogata warned that "while we hope
for a peaceful resolution of the Kosova crisis, we must be
ready for an even larger number of refugees." FS

BOSNIAN SERB PARLIAMENT DUMPS HARD-LINERS. Legislators in
the Republika Srpska parliament voted by 43 to 35 in Banja
Luka early on 16 June to remove speaker Dragan Kalinic and
his deputy, Nikola Poplasen, from office. Kalinic, who backs
former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, said his
opponents have shown "their true colors of servility to
outside masters." The international community's Carlos
Westendorp recently asked the parliament to elect a Croat or
Muslim as speaker. It is unclear when the new speaker and
deputy will be selected. In New York the previous day, the
Security Council voted to extend the mandate of 33,000 SFOR
troops and 2,000 UN police until June 1999. PM

EXTREMIST ROMANIAN LEADER DENIES HE WAS SECURITATE INFORMER.
Corneliu Vadim Tudor, chairman of the Greater Romania Party
(PRM), has said he will sue the daily "Ziua" for having
"fabricated" evidence of his links with the communist secret
police. "Ziua" on 15 June published a hand-written statement
signed by Tudor and pledging to work as an informer for the
Securitate. The letter is from the private archives of Ilie
Merce, a former Securitate officer, who is now a member of
the PRM leadership. It supports earlier articles in the
press according to which Merce supervised Tudor's activity
as a Securitate informer. Meanwhile, Democratic Party deputy
Adrian Vilau, who has admitted to having been an informer,
says he refuses to resign as chairman of the parliamentary
commission supervising the Foreign Information Service,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

NATO DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL IN ROMANIA. Klaus-Peter
Kleiber on 15 June told Prime Minister Radu Vasile that the
decision on whether to admit Romania to NATO in a second
enlargement wave may well depend on the progress of the
reform process in Romania, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. Vasile told the guest that he does not expect
Romanian-Hungarian relations to deteriorate as a result of
the change of government in Budapest. After meeting Foreign
Minister Andrei Plesu, Kleiber said a NATO peace-keeping
process in Kosova could well be open to those countries
taking part in the Partnership for Peace. MS

ZHIRINOVSKY ALLY WOUNDED IN TIRASPOL. Aleksandr Saidakov,
the Transdniester representative of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's
ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, was
shot and seriously wounded in Tiraspol on 12 June, ITAR-TASS
reported on 15 June. He is in critical condition, after
being hospitalized with bullets in his head and neck. The
authorities have arrested a suspect but it is unclear
whether he is the person who shot Saidakov. Saidakov is a
prominent businessman and a former minister of
transportation in the separatist government. Zhirinovsky
denounced the attempt as a "political crime," but Infotag,
citing sources close to the Transdniester leadership, said
the attempt on Saidakov's life was more likely connected
with his business activities. MS

SNEGUR ON REUNIFICATION WITH ROMANIA. In an interview with
"Kishinevskiye Novosti" on 12 June, Mircea Snegur said that
Moldova's reunification with Romania is "not on the current
political agenda" and that everyone must "realize that the
period of political romanticism is over". The former
president also denied he intended to seek Romanian
citizenship, saying "I have a motherland of my own" in which
"I invested too much effort" to seek another citizenship.
Snegur also said he does not intend to run again for the
presidency in 2000, Infotag reported. MS

BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ISRAEL. Nadezhda Mihailova and
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed several
cooperation agreements on 15 June. They also discussed the
situation in Kosova and in the Middle East, dpa reported. In
other news, visiting German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe
and his Bulgarian counterpart, Georgi Ananiev, have signed
an agreement providing for the training of Bulgarian
military at German military academies. The agreement extends
a similar accord signed in 1994, BTA reported. The two
ministers also discussed the situation in Kosova. MS

END NOTE

POWER COUNTERVAILING AND OTHERWISE

by Paul Goble

	The weakness of the Russian state increasingly allows
privatized firms there to challenge its authority, but the
strength of these firms on occasion may help Moscow to
extract more resources from the international financial
community.
	That dual role of large Russian firms was highlighted
at the weekend, when Gazprom chief Rem Vyakhirev told
European officials that his firm would not be able to afford
to sign new gas export contracts if the Russian government
implemented plans to collect more taxes from his company.
	But because the IMF reportedly has demanded that
Moscow break up the Russian gas monopoly, Vyakhirev's threat
at a meeting in Sardinia could trigger a new financial and
hence political crisis in the Russian capital.
	In a speech in Sardinia to the European Business
Congress, which Vyakhirev himself founded, the Gazprom chief
said that Moscow's plans to impose a value-added tax of 22
percent and an excise duty of 30 percent on exports would
effectively "bury" future gas supplies from Russia to
Europe.
	Such taxes, Vyakhirev said, were making the export of
gas increasingly unprofitable, with his company now losing
approximately "a dollar for every 1,000 cubic meters." No
privately owned firm, he noted, could continue to operate
for very long with such losses.
	By painting the situation in such dark colors,
Vyakhirev was clearly hoping to use the threat of reduced
natural gas deliveries to force the West to stop putting
pressure on the Russian government over tax collection. The
West wants Moscow to improve its collection of taxes,
particularly from large firms like his.
	But Vyakhirev's effort to enlist Western support for
his company against the Russian authorities may
paradoxically work to the advantage of that very government
as well.
	In order to ensure that Russian gas keeps flowing
westward, Europeans and those dependent on the European
economies are likely to press both for a more understanding
approach to Moscow's difficulties with tax collection and
for additional loans to the beleaguered Russian government.
And they may even back away from the support they apparently
have given to IMF plans to demand that the Russian
government break up Gazprom and make other reforms if Moscow
is to receive more aid.
	If Vyakhirev's threat works in that way, the Russian
government would be the beneficiary in the short run, but
the Russian economy and political system might be its
victims over the longer haul.
	Greater IMF assistance and less IMF micro-management
of the Russian economy could indeed give Moscow the
resources it needs to get through its current financial
crisis and also allow it greater freedom of action in
dealing with powerful interests in Russian society. But this
victory could prove a Pyrrhic one both for the Russian
government and for Gazprom itself.
	More foreign assistance and fewer conditions on it
would allow the Russian government to put off some reforms
that will be necessary if it is to put its economy back on
track. And to the extent that happens, the crises that
Russia is experiencing may be put off but will not be
solved.
	And any success by Gazprom in holding both the Russian
government and Western Europe hostage on tax collections and
gas deliveries is likely to increase demands from reformers
in the Russian government for breaking up a domestic firm
with so much power.
	Such demands and the certain resistance by Gazprom and
other members of the oligarchy that now dominates the
Russian economic scene could trigger a new and potentially
more serious political crisis. And that crisis, in turn,
would provide another measure of the strengths and
weaknesses of both sides as well as of the ways in which
each continues to depend on and support the other.

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