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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 125 Part II, 1 July 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 125 Part II, 1 July 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

* BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT OFFENDS MOSCOW

* SERBIA CLAIMS SUCCESS IN BELACEVAC OFFENSIVE

* HOLBROOKE SAYS PEACE MISSION CONTINUES
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT OFFENDS MOSCOW. Russian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said on 30 June that
Moscow is waiting for the Belarusian government to explain
what he called "an inappropriate reference to Russia" by
Alyaksandr Lukashenka, Interfax reported. Speaking at the
CransMontana forum in Switzerland at the weekend, Lukashenka
criticized "countries firing at their parliaments from
tanks," an apparent reference to Boris Yeltsin's attack on
the Russian White House in October 1993. In another
indication that Minsk is not above insulting Russia,
Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Ling noted the same day
that Russia owes Minsk some $2 billion for exports in 1997
but said that Belarus is prepared to provide assistance to
enterprises in two Russian cities on which Belarusian
industry depends, Interfax reported. PG

MINSK TO RETAIN 'COMMANDING HEIGHTS' OF BELARUS ECONOMY.
Also on 30 June, Belarusian Prime Minister Ling announced
that his government plans to maintain central control over
the "commanding heights" of the economy, Interfax reported.
He said that such control would be maintained even if firms
were partially privatized. And he commented that government
assistance to 38 large state enterprises in 1997 has brought
the government revenues twice as large as the investment. PG

UKRAINE COMPLAINS ABOUT RUSSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES. The
Ukrainian embassy in Moscow on 30 June asked the Russian
authorities to investigate what it called human rights
abuses in the Russian capital, the Ukrainian embassy in
Washington told RFE/RL. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Viktor Nahaychuk said in Kyiv that Ukrainians working in
Moscow have been mistreated or even beaten by local police
because they lost or were unable to obtain residence permits
from the city administration. PG

UKRAINE'S FINANCE MINISTRY FINDS MISUSE OF FUNDS AT
CHERNOBYL. Finance Ministry inspectors have identified
massive misuse of clean-up funds at the Chornobyl nuclear
plant, ITAR-TASS reported on 1 July. The government press
service said that approximately 10 million hryvnas ($5
million) have been embezzled, misappropriated, or misused.
After levying fines on officials involved, the auditing
service has taken control over all monies in the fund. PG.

UKRAINIAN FARMERS DEMAND LAND REFORM. Approximately 400
Ukrainian farmers demonstrated in Kyiv on 30 June to call
for the passage of reform legislation that would allow them
to buy and sell land freely, give them expanded assistance,
and create a single tax on agricultural production, Interfax
reported. PG

UKRAINE BATTLES DRUG, SEX TRADES. Ukraine's security service
announced on 30 June that its officers have seized more than
8.5 tons of drugs and arrested 140 drug dealers since last
year, Kyiv's "Segodnya" newspaper reported. Meanwhile, Nina
Karpacheva, the head of the parliamentary human rights
commission, told ITAR-TASS that one in every five of the
nearly 500,000 Ukrainian women who have moved to Western
Europe since independence have become employed in the sex
industry. PG

LATVIAN PRESIDENT OPPOSES REFERENDUM ON CITIZENSHIP LAW
CHANGES... Guntis Ulmanis has described the bid to hold a
referendum on the citizenship law amendments as "pre-
election populism" and "dishonest" (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
29 June 1998), BNS reported on 30 June. Ulmanis told
journalists that the passage of the amendments is "one of
the most important and responsibility-filled accomplishments
of the incumbent parliament" and will prompt the government
and parliamentary parties to adopt laws in line with the
"desire to strengthen the status of the Latvian language."
If voters supported a referendum on the issue, he argued, it
would signal their wish to start a dialogue with the
authorities and, moreover, political parties would be
obliged to voice their exact opinions on the issue. Also on
30 June, Ulmanis informed the Central Electoral Committee of
the suspension of the amendments' enactment pending the
collection of signatures in support of a plebiscite. JC

...WHILE PREMIER SAYS IT'S NECESSARY. Guntars Krasts,
meanwhile, has backed such a referendum, saying it is
necessary because Latvia is about to introduce norms that do
not exist in other European countries, BNS reported on 30
June. "If we are making a European-scale experiment, we
should know the people's opinion," he told reporters.
Krasts's Fatherland and Freedom Party initiated the
referendum bid last month. Latvia's Way has said that
Krasts's suitability as premier would be seriously called
into question if he supported the initiative, while the
opposition Democratic Party Saimnieks noted it may propose a
no confidence vote in the government if Krasts does not
oppose the referendum bid. A Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman said in Moscow on 30 June that "radicals" in
Latvia are "playing the nationalist card" ahead of the
elections. He added that the Latvian people should opt for
measures recommended by the international community,
Interfax reported. JC

POLAND TO REFORM COAL, STEEL INDUSTRIES. In order to meet EU
requirements, the Polish cabinet on 30 June decided to push
ahead with plans to reform the key coal and steel
industries, PAP reported. The plans call for cutting some
105,000 jobs in the coal industry by the year 2002 and
reducing output from 137 million tons a year to 112 million
tons. To cushion the impact of this cutback, Warsaw has
asked the World Bank for a $1 billion loan. The plan also
calls for cutting employment by 50,000 in the steel industry
while maintaining current output levels. The same day, some
30 farmers held a sit-in at the Finance Ministry to demand
higher subsidies, which the EU has opposed. PG

GRAND COALITION IN CZECH REPUBLIC? The chairman of the
Social Democratic Party (CSSD), Milos Zeman, said after
talks with the leader of the Civil Democratic Party (ODS)
Vaclav Klaus on 29 June that there is a "possibility" that
an "agreement" would be reached on forming a government in
which "the strongest [parliamentary] parties will have a
significant position." Klaus said after the talks that he no
longer rules out the possibility that the ODS would tolerate
a minority government including only CSSD ministers.
However, after meeting Zeman the same day, Christian
Democratic Party leader Josef Lux said a "center-left"
coalition as well as a "grand coalition" are now becoming
possible owing to "notable concessions from the Social
Democrats," Reuters and AP reported. MS

PLANS TO CUT SIZE OF CZECH ARMY. Defense Minister Michal
Lobkowicz on 29 June submitted to the National Security
Council a plan that would cut Czech army troops from 81,000
to 60,000 by 2003, CTK reported. Lobkowicz told journalists
the reduction will not affect the army's "combat core" but
will target "white-collar jobs, senior officers, and
conscripts." Chief of Staff Jiri Sedivy said that by 2001,
the Czech military will set up a "fully professional" rapid
deployment force. That force could be deployed within 20
days, he said. MS

SLOVAKIA'S HUNGARIANS PROTEST DISCRIMINATION. Thousands of
ethnic Hungarian pupils on 30 June protested new government
regulations that they consider discriminatory, Reuters
reported. Pupils handed back their end of term reports after
the Ministry of Education ordered the reports to be issued
in the Slovak language only. The ministry, which is run by
the ultra-right Slovak National Party, also intends to amend
existing legislation to make the teaching of history and
geography in national minority schools in Slovak obligatory
and to require that books used in teaching be approved by
the ministry. MS

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW CABINET STRUCTURE. By a
vote of 207 to 47 and 45 abstentions, the parliament on 30
June approved a bill whereby the new cabinet will have 13
ministries (instead of 12 until now) and two ministers
without portfolio. The Socialist and Free Democrat
opposition criticized that provision of the bill that splits
the Culture and Education Ministry into an Education
Ministry and a National Cultural Heritage Ministry, saying
the latter does not express the variety of cultures in
Hungary. In other news, former Prime Minister Peter Boross
is to become Prime Minister-designate Viktor Orban's
national security adviser, "Magyar Hirlap" reported on 1
July. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIA CLAIMS SUCCESS IN BELACEVAC OFFENSIVE. Serbian police
officials on 30 June said they have retaken villages near
the Belacevac coal mine that were previously controlled by
the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). Yugoslav army tanks were
used in the offensive, AP reported. Serbs have resumed
operation of the strategic Belacevac mine as well, according
to Reuters. The mine is just west of Prishtina and supplies
two nearby power plants. Reports say at least three
Albanians were killed and seven wounded in the battle,
although most of the UCK fighters are reported to have
escaped the area. Thousands of inhabitants have fled
Belacevac and two nearby towns, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. Elsewhere, five Albanians died in battles
with Serbian forces near the Albanian border west of
Djakovica, according to Serbian police. The UCK is reported
to have launched an attack at the village of Drenoc, near
Klina, and attacked a Serbian military convoy on the
Prizren-Shtime road. FS

SERBIAN OFFICIALS SAYS KIJEVA IS NEXT TARGET. Veljko
Odalovic, the Serbian governor of Kosova, said that the
siege around the village of Kijeva will be lifted soon,
Reuters reported on 30 June. Odalovic said that Serbs
"cannot justify that in our own state we have people being
held as hostages." There are some 220 Serbs in Kijeva, which
has been encircled by UCK forces for more than a week.
Serbian forces, in turn, have surrounded the UCK. Yugoslav
army helicopters strafed the UCK troops on 29 June. Western
officials have said Kijeva is a flash point and warned that
an attempt by Serbian forces to secure the village will
result in a blood bath. PB

HOLBROOKE SAYS PEACE MISSION CONTINUES. U.S. envoy Richard
Holbrooke said that attempts to defuse the situation in
Kosova continue, although it is "on the edge of becoming an
emergency," Reuters reported. Holbrooke, speaking from Oslo,
said diplomatic efforts are "intense and ongoing," pointing
to the meeting by the U.S. ambassador to Macedonia,
Christopher Hill, with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
in Belgrade on 30 June. No details of the meeting are known.
Hill is scheduled to meet with ethic Albanian leaders in
Prishtina on 1 July. Holbrooke said no clear chain of
command exists within the UCK, so it is difficult to
negotiate a cease-fire. In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said the UCK must not be
involved in any peace talks. PB

ANNAN PROPOSES TO EXTEND UN MANDATE FOR PREVLAKA. UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed in New York on 29 June
that the mandate of the UN monitoring mission for the
Prevlaka peninsula (UNMOP) be extended for another six
months. The UNMOP mandate runs out on 15 July. Annan has
urged Belgrade and Zagreb to settle the border dispute (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 30 June 1998). Croatia's ambassador to
the UN, Ivan Simonovic, said that Zagreb will demand
confirmation by the UN Security Council that Prevlaka is
Croatian territory as a precondition for extending the
mandate. FS

YUGOSLAVIA BLAMES COURT FOR SERB'S SUICIDE. The Yugoslav
Justice Ministry sent a formal protest on 30 June to the
International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague over the
suicide of accused war criminal Slavko Dokmanovic (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 29 June 1998), Tanjug reported. The
Justice Ministry said it holds the tribunal responsible for
his death owing to negligence in his care and surveillance.
Dokmanovic's attorney in Belgrade said his client had been
severely depressed for several weeks and had received
treatment for his condition. PB

CROATIA'S SERBS APPROVE OF RETURNEE PROGRAM. Vojislav
Stanimirovic, a leader of the Serbian community in Croatia,
said in Vukovar on 30 June that he welcomes the program
adopted by the Croatian parliament on 26 June that seeks to
facilitate the return of Serbian refugees to Croatia, AFP
reported. Stanimirovic said the program does not take into
account all problems faced by returnees but that it is
important to implement the plan quickly. He said he thinks
conflicts may arise when Serbs return to Croatia to reclaim
their pre-war homes. PB

ALBANIAN SECRET SERVICE CHIEF SAYS HIS PREDECESSORS
COMMITTED MURDER. Secret Service (SHIK) chief Fatos Klosi
told the parliament on 30 June that he has evidence proving
that the SHIK was involved in illegal activities after
former President Sali Berisha failed to push through a new
constitution in 1994. Klosi said that SHIK executed people
without trial and spied on almost all prominent opposition
politicians as well as Supreme Court Chief Judge Zef Brozi,
trade union activists, and the Albanian branch of the Soros
Foundation. He added that his predecessor, Bashkim Gazidede,
received his orders directly from Berisha, "Koha Jone"
reported. FS

WORLD BANK REPORT SHOWS ALBANIAN CORRUPTION RAMPANT.
According to a World Bank report presented to a conference
in Tirana on 30 June, Albania is the most corrupt country in
Europe. In a survey, more than 70 percent of entrepreneurs
in Albania admitted bribing customs officials, while some 60
percent said they pay bribes for the installation of
telephone lines. Just under 50 percent said they pay bribes
for construction licenses or to the tax authorities. Thirty-
three percent of those who have been tried admitted to
having paid bribes to court clerks, 22 percent to defense
lawyers, some 10 percent to judges and prosecutors, and 5
percent to prison officials, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS

ROMANIA TO ACCELERATE REFORMS. Prime Minister Radu Vasile,
addressing a conference organized by "The Economist" in
Bucharest on 30 June, said the "most dangerous adversary" of
the reform process is the "trade unions-state managerial
alliance." He said he is determined to accelerate the reform
process "even if this means the end of my political career."
Vasile said the state bureaucracy is "the mainspring of
corruption" but is aided also by "ambiguous legislation"
passed by successive governments, which, he said, leaves
room for conflicting interpretation. He pledged to pass
legislation encouraging foreign investments and said the
inflation rate in 1999 will be 22 percent, about half of
that forecast for this year, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. The same day, the National Statistical Board said
GDP in the first half of this year has declined by 9.4
percent compared with the same period last year. MS

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS HOMOSEXUAL DECRIMINALIZATION.
The Chamber of Deputies on 30 June rejected government-
proposed amendments to the penal code to decriminalize
homosexual relations. The amendment was five votes short of
the required 172 majority, because some deputies
representing the ruling coalition were not present during
the vote. They had earlier spoken out against the amendment.
Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica said that the coalition will
discuss the "lack of discipline" that prompted the failure,
adding that the draft will be resubmitted to the parliament
in the fall. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe, which recently took Romania off its "special list"
of countries it monitors, has been urging Bucharest to bring
its legislation into line with European standards. MS

BULGARIA TIGHTENS ANTI-DRUG LEGISLATION. The government on
29 June approved amendments to the penal code that
drastically step up punishment for the cultivation of
narcotic plants, the production of narcotics, and the sale
of drugs in schools, BTA reported. Ring leaders of groups
engaged in narcotic cultivation and production will be
liable to prison terms from 20 years to life and to fines
ranging from 300 to 500 million leva ($167,000-$278,000).
Selling drugs in schools and army bases will be punished by
15-20 years in prison and by fines of 300-500 million leva.
MS

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