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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 116 Part II, 18 June 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 116 Part II, 18 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

* LUKASHENKA BACKS DOWN IN ROW OVER DIPLOMATIC RESIDENCES

* NATO CONTINUES TO DRAW UP CONTINGENCY PLANS FOR KOSOVA

* MONTENEGRIN LEGISLATORS BLOCK MILOSEVIC

End Note: LITTLE HOPE AMID GLOOM IN RUN-UP TO  CZECH
ELECTIONS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA BACKS DOWN IN ROW OVER DIPLOMATIC RESIDENCES. The
British Embassy in Minsk on 17 June announced that foreign
diplomats who had been threatened with eviction from the
Drazdy residential compound will remain there. The
statement, which came after a meeting of five Western
ambassadors with Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich the same
day, said the authorities will continue with repairs to
water supply and sewage systems. Those repairs had been
cited as the official reason for the eviction order in
April. Reuters on 17 June quoted an IMF representative in
Minsk as saying President Alyaksandr Lukashenka signed the
decree permitting the diplomats to stay at Drazdy.
Lukashenka had earlier hinted that he does not like having
Western diplomats live close to his own residence in the
compound (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 1998). JM

UKRAINIAN MINERS END STRIKE. Miners from Pavlovhrad,
Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, have ended their strike following a
government pledge to pay their back wages, ITAR-TASS
reported on 18 June. The miners, who had marched some 600
kilometers to Kyiv to demand the payment of wage arrears,
left the capital only after witnessing a payment order
signed by the government. Ukrainian Television reported on
16 June that the government has signed a protocol with the
Pavlovhrad miners whereby it will pay 17 million hryvni ($13
million) in current wages and allocate another 30 million to
pay wage arrears. The protocol also provides for the
implementation of the parliament's resolution on allocating
600 million hryvni to support the coal industry. JM

COMMUNIST LEADER NARROWLY FAILS TO BECOME SPEAKER. In the
eighth round of elections for speaker of the Supreme
Council, Communist leader Petro Symonenko received 221
votes, just five short of the required 226, ITAR-TASS
reported on 18 June. As on previous occasions, the right-
wing and centrist groups in the Supreme Council did not
participate in the ballot. Also on 18 June, the legislature
is to propose candidates for the next round of elections.
Under house regulations, there are no limitations on the
number of times the same candidate for speaker may be
proposed. JM

UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS PROTEST SUPPRESSION OF OPPOSITION PRESS.
Ten Supreme Council deputies published an open letter to
Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko in the 17 June "Holos
Ukrayiny" requesting him "to put an end to the negative
development of events in the [country's] information
sphere." The deputies accused Information Minister Zinoviy
Kulyk of clamping down on opposition newspapers and media
critical of the current government. They pointed to "Pravda
Ukrayiny," "Vseukrainskiye vedomosti," and "Polityka," whose
publication was "temporarily suspended" following legal
actions taken against them by the Information Ministry or
administrative measures applied by tax and other services
subordinated to the executive. JM

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT STRIPS OPPOSITION LEADER OF IMMUNITY.
Lawmakers on 17 June voted to strip leader of the opposition
Reform Party Siim Kallas of his parliamentary immunity, ETA
reported. Kallas had requested that move to allow him to
appear in court in connection with a $10 million affair
dating from 1993, when he was head of the Bank of Estonia
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 1998). The Central
Investigation Bureau wants to charge Kallas with abuse of
power, intention to embezzle funds, and submitting false
data. Kallas denies all those charges. Also on 17 June, the
parliament passed a supplementary budget totaling 283.9
million kroons ($18.9 million), part of which will be used
to compensate depositors at the recently liquidated Rural
Bank. The additional budget was agreed on last December to
distribute funds earned from the sale of state property. JC

LATVIAN PRESIDENT WANTS LAWMAKERS TO HOLD EXTRAORDINARY
SESSION. Guntis Ulmanis has backed the Democratic Party
Saimnieks's initiative to convene an extraordinary session
of the parliament to consider amendments to the citizenship
law in the third and final reading (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
17 June 1998), BNS reported. Ulmanis criticized the failure
of the coalition parties to reach agreement on the
amendments. If the parties are unable to agree on the issue,
"no president can help," he commented. But Ernests Jurkans,
head of the Saimnieks parliamentary group, told journalists
if the amendments to citizenship law are not adopted,
Saimnieks plans to meet with the president to consider
further steps. In other news, lawmakers have voted to keep
capital punishment in the new penal code in the second
reading of that document. JC

COMMISSION WANTS BRAZAUSKAS TO TESTIFY ON SURVEILLANCE. A
Lithuanian parliamentary commission investigating alleged
spying on top officials by one of the country's security
services has invited former President Algirdas Brazauskas to
testify about possible spying on him, BNS reported on 17
June. Brazauskas recently told "Lietuvos Rytas" that during
his tenure as president, he had felt at times that he was
under surveillance. "Certain words or even entire sentences
that I said in my office were quoted in conversations with
other officials," Brazauskas said. Earlier, the commission
had informed the parliament that it had not found sufficient
evidence that high-ranking state officials had been subject
to surveillance. The scandal emerged following press reports
that the Third Department of the Interior Ministry had spied
on the country's top leaders (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May
and 28 May 1998). JC

TRAIN DRIVERS' STRIKE DISRUPTS RAILROAD TRAFFIC IN POLAND.
According to the Polish State Railroads (PKP), the train
drivers' strike has halted some 60 percent of freight trains
and 30 percent of passenger trains (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
17 June 1998). The PKP estimates its daily losses at 11
million zlotys ($3.1 million). Jan Zborowski, head of the
Trade Union of Train Drivers, says he expects some 70
percent of trains to be halted on 18 June, "Gazeta Wyborcza"
reported. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek has declared the strike
unlawful. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transportation has
begun negotiations with the train drivers' trade union,
which belongs to the left-wing National Trade Union Alliance. JM

CZECH ELECTION CAMPAIGN ENDS. The election campaign
officially ended on 17 June. Ballot stations open on 19 June
and will close the following day, when preliminary results
are also expected. Milos Zeman, the chairman of the Social
Democratic Party (CSSD), which is most likely to win the
elections, ended his campaign in northern Moravia. Former
Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, leader of the Civic Democratic
Party (ODS), and his former deputy, Jan Ruml, who now heads
the rival Freedom Union, held rallies in Prague. The ODS
ended its campaign with a strong warning on posters and in
the press against a " return to totalitarianism" if the CSSD
wins the elections (see also "End Note" below). MS

HUNGARY'S SMALLHOLDERS NOMINATE MINISTERS. The parliamentary
group and leadership of the Independent Smallholders' Party
(FKGP) on 17 June nominated the party's four candidates for
ministerial posts in the new coalition government. Party
chairman Jozsef Torgyan is the candidate for the post of
minister of agriculture and provincial development, Janos
Szabo for defense minister, and Pal Pepo for environment
minister. The FKGP also nominated Imre Boros as minister
without portfolio responsible for coordinating the
distribution of EU funds in Hungary. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NATO CONTINUES TO DRAW UP CONTINGENCY PLANS FOR KOSOVA. In
Moscow on 17 June, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii
Primakov rejected Western criticism of the previous day's
joint declaration between Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 1998). Primakov called the
declaration the best agreement possible under present
circumstances. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana noted in
Vilnius that the Western allies are growing increasingly
tired of the failure of Milosevic to back up his promises
with deeds. A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony
Blair said in London that "one of the lessons of Bosnia is
that you cannot rely on [Milosevic's] word, so we will be
pressing ahead with [NATO] preparations." NATO spokesmen
said in Brussels that planners are moving quickly to prepare
contingency plans for Kosova. PM

GELBARD SAYS MORE EXERCISES TO COME. Robert Gelbard, U.S.
special envoy for the former Yugoslavia, said in Washington
on 17 June that NATO will conduct additional military
exercises in the Balkans to follow up on the success of
operation Determined Falcon over Macedonia and Albania
earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1998). He
added that the international Contact Group will meet soon to
discuss the crisis in Kosova. PM

MONTENEGRIN LEGISLATORS BLOCK MILOSEVIC... The Montenegrin
parliament on 17 June appointed 20 supporters of President
Milo Djukanovic to represent Montenegro in the 40-member
federal Yugoslav upper house, "Nasa Borba" wrote. Milosevic
now lacks a two-thirds majority to change the constitution
and will not be able to increase his presidential powers at
the expense of Serbia and Montenegro. Former Montenegrin
President and current federal Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic
slammed the decision to exclude representatives of his
Socialist People's Party from the upper house as "a new act
of secession," the "Financial Times" reported. FS

...THREATEN TO WITHDRAW SOLDIERS FROM KOSOVA. The
Montenegrin parliament on 17 June passed a resolution
demanding that Milosevic immediately end the violence in
Kosova and meet the demands by the international Contact
Group aimed at resolving the conflict in the province. The
resolution demands that if Milosevic does not do so, the
Yugoslav army must withdraw all Montenegrin troops from
Kosova and send them to barracks in Montenegro or Serbia
proper. The parliament also decided to send a delegation to
Kosova to inspect the barracks in which Montenegrin soldiers
are serving and called on the Montenegrin government to
conduct a policy that "prevents armed clashes with forces of
the international community and that ensures the protection
of the territory of Montenegro from possible attacks by
international forces." Djukanovic and key members of his
government have repeatedly said that Podgorica wants no part
of a war in Kosova. FS

HUNGARY WANTS VOJVODINA CONSCRIPTS OUT OF KOSOVA...
Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath told
journalists on 17 June that ethnic Hungarian soldiers from
Vojvodina should not be ordered to Kosova and that those
already there should be withdrawn. Horvath noted that ethnic
Hungarian leaders in Vojvodina have said that more than 300
ethnic Hungarians are already on duty in the province. "This
practice unavoidably results in tensions between
Yugoslavia's minorities," he said, adding that Hungarian
diplomats have raised the issue with Belgrade and also with
EU and U.S. officials. Horvath noted that many Vojvodina
Hungarians fear that the conflict in Kosova could lead to a
fresh exodus of refugees from Vojvodina, as happened during
the 1991-1995 Croatian and Bosnian wars. MSZ/PM

...AS DO VOJVODINA PARENTS. Parents of conscripts from
Vojvodina who are serving in Kosova agreed at a meeting in
Novi Sad on 17 June to combine efforts with parents' groups
from elsewhere in Serbia to oppose the war in Kosova (see
"RFE/RL Bosnia Report," 17 June 1998). The parents demanded
that the army transfer all Vojvodina conscripts in Kosova
back to barracks in Vojvodina within 48 hours, RFE/RL's
South Slavic Service reported. One father asked why his son
had to go to Kosova when Milosevic does not send his own son
there, "Nasa Borba" reported. Nenad Canak, who heads the
League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina, was one of the
organizers of the parents' meeting. PM

CROATIAN OPPOSITION INTRODUCES NO-CONFIDENCE MOTION.
Representatives of six opposition parties submitted a motion
of no confidence against the government in the parliament on
17 June, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The text
noted that "a great majority of Croats live in difficult
social circumstances" and singled out pensioners, the
unemployed, and those who are employed but have not been
paid as key hardship groups. The government has a majority
in the parliament and can block passage of the resolution.
Social tensions have increased since the end of the Krajina
war in 1995 and the introduction of a new value-added tax
earlier this year. PM

MONTENEGRO SAYS ZAGREB'S APPROACH BETTER THAN BELGRADE'S.
Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Perovic said in
Podgorica on 17 June that Croatia's recent proposal to
resolve the dispute between Yugoslavia and Croatia over the
Prevlaka peninsula is particularly welcome in view of
Belgrade's failure to offer any ideas of its own. Perovic
added that the Croatian document goes far to promote good
relations and an improved standard of living on either side
of the border and is thus also in Yugoslavia's best
interest. Prevlaka, currently under UN administration, is
part of Croatia but controls access to Kotor Bay, which is
Yugoslavia's only deep-water naval base. Montenegro's
reformist government is anxious to normalize relations with
Croatia as part of its program of opening up to the outside
world and reviving its key tourist and shipping industries.
PM

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER TAKES JOURNALISTS TO COURT.
Skender Gjinushi on 17 June filed slander charges against
Astrit Patozi, who is the editor-in-chief of "Rilindja
Demokratike," and another journalist from the same
newspaper. "Rilindja Demokratike," which is the organ of the
opposition Democratic Party, had published an article
claiming that the other accused journalist received $120,000
from a manager of the failed VEFA pyramid investment scheme.
Socialist Party Secretary-General Pandeli Majko has said he
will file charges against Patozi because "Rilindja
Demokratike" published allegations that Majko received
$240,000 from unspecified pyramid schemes, ATSH reported.
"Rilindja Demokratike" repeated its allegations against both
politicians on 18 June. Chief pyramid scheme investigator
Farudin Arapi declined to comment on the charges. FS

TWO MORE ROMANIAN POLITICIANS ADMIT SECURITATE LINKS. Prime
Minister Radu Vasile has asked Minister of Health Francisc
Baranyi to resign and Baranyi's Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania (UDMR) to nominate someone to replace
him, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 17 June . The
demand came after Baranyi admitted to having been recruited
as an informer of the former secret police 40 years ago. He
said he was forced to do so "at gun point" and never
provided any information to the Securitate. The same day,
National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) deputy
chairman Vasile Lupu admitted that he agreed to provide
information on "people who threaten national security" but
said he signed no pledge and never provided any information.
The admissions come as the Senate is approaching the end of
its debates on a law that would allow access to the files of
the former Securitate. MS

ROMANIAN COALITION IN CONFLICT OVER BILL ON STATE FARMS
AGENCY. Senators representing the PNTCD and the UDMR walked
out of a 17 June debate on a bill submitted by their
coalition partner, the Democratic Party, and the opposition
parties. The bill would set up a National Agency of State
Farms. The PNTCD and the UDMR say the bill would sabotage
the return of agricultural land to its former owners and
accuse the Democrats of acting against the coalition
agreement. In other news, an IMF mission on 17 June began
talks with Romanian officials on the evaluation of Romania's
economic performance and a new stand-by agreement for 1998-
1999. Chief IMF negotiator Poul Thompsen is expected in
Bucharest at the end of this week. MS

IMF READY TO RESUME LOANS TO MOLDOVA. The IMF is ready to
resume lending to Moldova in October if Chisinau implements
an austerity program agreed on by the two sides after
negotiations, Oleh Havrilyshin, deputy director of the IMF
department for former Soviet states, told journalists in
Chisinau on 17 June. Havrilyshin said the agreement
stipulates that the austerity program will be implemented in
the coming months, enabling the IMF to release a $28 million
tranche in October, Reuters reported. He added that the
successful implementation of the program would also make it
possible for the World Bank to resume financing and that the
IMF would release another $100 million in 1999. MS

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY WANTS DEBATE OVER KOSOVA. The
main opposition Socialist Party is demanding a debate in the
parliament on Bulgarian's position on the conflict in
Kosova, RFE/RL's Sofia Bureau reported on 17 June. In a
declaration issued earlier this week, the Socialists said
several Bulgarian officials are "displaying enthusiasm" over
the possibility of Sofia's "becoming involved" in a military
confrontation over Kosova. The Socialists want the
legislature to repeat a 1993 declaration saying Bulgaria
will not become involved in military confrontations in the
former Yugoslavia, "either directly or under the auspices of
the UN." Also on 17 June, refinery workers at the Plama
refinery who went on strike on 15 June over unpaid wages
said they may demand that their colleagues who help prevent
industrial waste from spilling into the River Pleven, the
main water source for the area, walk off the job. MS

COUNCIL OF EUROPE CONCERNED ABOUT RACISM IN BULGARIA,
SLOVAKIA. In a report issued on 17 June, a Council of Europe
commission said it is concerned about racism in Bulgaria,
Slovakia, and several other European countries. The European
Commission Against Racism and Intolerance said that Bulgaria
"lacks structures and policies to deal with racism and
intolerance" and that the treatment of Roma in Bulgaria is
particularly worrying. The report says Roma face
discrimination in Slovakia as well, particularly in jobs,
housing, health care, and education. It adds that Slovakia's
ethnic Hungarians face discrimination, particularly in
restrictions imposed on the use of their mother tongue. MS

END NOTE

LITTLE HOPE AMID GLOOM IN RUN-UP TO CZECH ELECTIONS

by Breffni O'Rourke

	The Czech Republic goes into parliamentary elections
on 19-20 June amid widespread gloom. The economy is
moribund, and chances are considered negligible that voting
will produce a strong government to tackle the general
malaise.
	One thing is striking in this rather somber landscape.
The presence of former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus is
pervasive. Klaus, driven from office when his coalition
collapsed late last year amid recriminations of arrogance,
incompetence, and corruption, has not faded from the
political scene as expected. Klaus, the architect of Czech
reform, has re-emerged as a central figure in the pre-
election campaign.
	A Czech affairs specialist at RFE/RL, Jefim Fistein,
says Klaus's survival is "absolutely phenomenal." He notes
that "all the opposite predictions proved false, and the
reason for this is that what Klaus really succeeded in doing
was building what you could call a people's party, a party
that has deep roots in the Czech population and that has a
very large net of local organizations and very many
dedicated people."
	Since the collapse of the Klaus minority coalition
government in November, the country has been led competently
enough by a government of technocrats under Prime Minister
Josef Tosovsky, a quiet, former central banker. The non-
political interregnum is presumably about to end, but
Fistein says prospects that the politicians will be able to
put together a strong government after the election appear
nil: "It's absolutely impossible because the divisions in
the Czech population are deep and already sufficiently
crystallized for one to say that the changes in voting
patterns will be small. That is to say, about half the Czech
population are left-wing, and about half are right-wing."
	Pre-election opinion polls indicate the strongest
single party is the leftist Social Democrats (CSSD), led by
Milos Zeman, which could take about 25 percent of the votes.
Not far behind is Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS), with
just over 20 percent voter support--a remarkable showing
considering the ODS split after Klaus's fall from office.
	These two main parties, however, are not expected to
gain enough votes to govern on their own. Some see the best
chance for stability in the short term as the formation of a
grand coalition between the two, despite the fact that both
parties say they do not want that. Such a coalition could
provide the opportunity for a reform of the electoral
system, a change widely viewed as necessary if future
elections are to produce clear winners instead of political
gridlock.
	But if Klaus and Zeman do not form a grand coalition
this time, the stage is set for messy negotiations between
bigger and smaller parties and a key role for President
Vaclav Havel in those talks. Some of the minor parties have
pledged not to work with one another, which will complicate
the issue. The two "untouchables," considered unfit to be
full coalition partners, are the Republicans on the far
right and the Communists on the left. But the Communists
might yet have a role to play: one possible scenario is a
minority administration led by the CSSD but with additional
support in the parliament from the Communists.
	In the prosperous Czech capital, optimism comes easier
than in the provinces. The city has near full employment and
the highest average wage. But for many people outside the
capital, there's gloom over falling real wages and
increasing unemployment, results of an economy stagnating
because the politicians are unable to provide direction,
decisiveness, and security.
	Nearly a decade after the Velvet Revolution, economic
transition remains incomplete, despite the hard reformist
rhetoric of the Klaus years. Who can get the economy working
again, and bring the prosperity the country is certainly
capable of producing? That question is not likely to be
answered by this weekend's elections.

The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent.

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