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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 127 Part II, 3 July 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 127 Part II, 3 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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Note to readers: RFE/RL Newsline will not appear on Monday,
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Headlines, Part II

* KREMLIN URGES REGIONAL LEADERS TO SNUB LATVIA'S BIRKAVS

* CLINTON BLAMES BOTH SIDES IN KOSOVA

* KIJEVA SIEGE OVER
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REGIONAL AFFAIRS

KREMLIN URGES REGIONAL LEADERS TO SNUB LATVIA'S BIRKAVS...
The Russian presidential administration has recommended that
Governors Vladimir Yakovlev of St. Petersburg and Yevgenii
Mikhailov of Pskov Oblast avoid all contact with Latvian
Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs when he visits St.
Petersburg next week to open the new building of the Latvian
Consulate-General, Interfax reported on 2 July. Russian
presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii told the news
agency that the recommendation is prompted by unresolved
issues linked to ethnic Russians living in Latvia. Given
that those problems have not been resolved by the Latvian
parliament, contacts with Birkavs "would be an incorrect
message both to Russian society and the Latvian
authorities," Yastrzhembskii said. JC

...WHILE MOSCOW DENIES IMPOSING SANCTIONS ON LATVIA. Also on
2 July, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir
Rakhmanin told journalists in Moscow that Russia has not
imposed economic sanctions on Latvia, Interfax reported.
Rakhmanin noted that beginning the previous day, Moscow
abolished reduced tariffs for transit freight en route to
Latvia, but he stressed the measure was taken "in order to
streamline trade and economic relations with Latvia" and was
not an embargo. "Russia opposes economic sanctions. This is
our country's firm position," he said. The same day, Latvian
Foreign Minister Birkavs announced that Riga will launch a
campaign to notify international financial organizations
about Russia's economic pressure on Latvia. Moscow, he
argued, is violating IMF principles and regulations as well
as the joint communique of the G-8 energy ministers on the
free transit of goods. "It is obvious that Russia has not
imposed sanctions de jure, but they exist de facto," he
commented. JC

EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION SLAMS BELARUS. Human Rights Watch
accused Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka of being
a "quasi dictator" who is reversing political reforms and
abusing human rights, AP reported on 2 July. The New York-
based group said in a report that Lukashenka has "recreated
some of the worst aspects of the Soviet era." The report
includes a list of human rights violations registered in
Belarus, mostly instances of political persecution and
harassment of the media. Meanwhile in Minsk, a book on
Lukashenka has been published in which he is quoted saying
that "not a single journalist has been harassed." PB

BELARUS BEGINS NATIONAL HOLIDAY FESTIVITIES. On the eve of
the country's national day, President Lukashenka said in a
speech that Belarus will "bow to no one," AP reported on 2
July. In an apparent reference to Western critics of his
government, Lukashenka said a country cannot enter the year
2000 "carrying the weight of political falsehood [and] using
methods of political dictatorship." In 1996, Lukashenka
changed Belarus's national day to 3 July, the day Soviet
troops liberated Minsk from German forces during World War
II. PB

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT FRUSTRATED BY PARLIAMENT. Leonid Kuchma
on 2 July criticized Supreme Council deputies after they
failed yet again to elect a parliamentary speaker, AP
reported. Kuchma said that along with the 1998 budget, more
than 100 bills await parliamentary approval. The budget
includes a sharp reduction in the budget deficit, a major
requirement for a $2.5 billion loan from the IMF. Kuchma
said the failure of the legislature to address urgent
economic issues has reached a "critical level." He said he
is willing to work constructively with the parliament but is
prepared to issue more decrees on economic matters if the
body remains inactive. More than 50 deputies have been
nominated for the speaker position in nearly 20 votes since
the Supreme Council convened in mid-May. PB

HEALTH OFFICIALS WARN OF RADIOACTIVE FOOD IN KYIV. Ukrainian
health officials have found dozens of cases of excess
radioactivity in foodstuffs being sold in Kyiv markets,
particularly blueberries and mushrooms, AP reported on 2
July. Health authorities have begun televised warnings about
the products, which originate from areas of the country
contaminated by the 1986 explosion at Chornobyl. PB

KWASNIEWSKI VETOES 15-PROVINCE PLAN. President Aleksander
Kwasniewski on 2 July vetoed legislation to consolidate the
country's provinces, Reuters reported. Kwasniewski said the
bill, which has been passed by the Sejm and the Senate,
contradicts the will of the people. Kwasniewski and leftist
politicians favor reducing the number of provinces from 49
to 17, while the approved bill provides for 15 provinces.
Solidarity politicians threatened to cut contacts with the
president if he vetoed the bill. In other news, the Sejm
approved a bill lifting the ban on beer advertising. The
bill is expected to be approved by the Senate and signed by
the president. Beer recently supplanted vodka as the most
popular alcoholic beverage in Poland. PB

POLAND TO COMPLETE POWER SECTOR PRIVATIZATION. Finance and
Deputy Prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz said on 2 July that
Poland's power sector will be privatized by 2002, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Warsaw reported. He said that energy prices
could be deregulated as soon as January. And he added that
the value of the firms to be privatized is nearly 100
billion zlotys ($29 billion). PB

ZEMAN SAYS COALITION TALKS WITH FREEDOM UNION 'OVER'...
Social Democratic Party (CSSD) chairman Milos Zeman on 2
July said the coalition talks with the Freedom Union are "
definitely over." He said his latest proposal to Freedom
Union leader Jan Ruml was to set up a coalition with
Christian Democratic Party (KDU-CSL) leader Josef Lux as
premier and with four seats in the cabinet for the union.
Ruml, however, had turned the offer down, citing
incompatibility between the parties' programs, CTK reported.
The same day, Ruml told journalists that he admires the "
responsibility and generosity" of Zeman's proposal and that
he hopes the Civic Democratic Union (ODS) will displaying a
similar attitude in talks with his party. MS

...BUT HAVEL ASKS HIM TO CONTINUE COALITION PARLEYS. After
meeting with Zeman the same day, President Vaclav Havel said
he has asked the CSSD leader "not to make hasty decisions"
and to continue efforts to set up a coalition. He added that
the CSSD proposals were "very open, consensual, and
generous." Also on 2 July, ODS deputy chairman Ivan Langer
described as "schizophrenic and absurd" a statement by KDU-
CSL deputy chairman Jan Kasal, who said an ODS-Freedom
Union-KDU-CSL coalition would be feasible if ODS leader
Vaclav Klaus were not in the cabinet. Meanwhile, Miroslav
Grebenicek, chairman of the Communist Party of Bohemia and
Moravia, said his party will not support a minority
government of CSSD ministers only. But he repeated his
readiness to "tolerate" a CSSD-KDU-CSL minority government
on certain conditions. KDU-CSL leader Josef Lux, however,
has rejected that option. MS

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT REJECTS BILL LIMITING HUNGARIAN EDUCATION.
The Slovak and Hungarian opposition, supported by some
representatives of the governing Movement for Democratic
Slovakia, voted down on 2 July an amendment submitted to the
parliament on Hungarian-language education in Slovakia. The
bill, drafted by the Education Ministry, would have required
Hungarian pupils to study history and geography in Slovak
and use a curriculum and text books approved by the
ministry. MSZ

DOWNTOWN BOMBING KILLS FOUR IN BUDAPEST. Entrepreneur Jozsef
Tamas Boros and three pedestrians were killed when a bomb
exploded on 2 July in Budapest's downtown tourist zone. Some
25 people were injured. Media report that Boros, the owner
of several restaurants in Budapest and at lake Balaton, was
the target of the bombing. He had recently provided useful
information to the police in an investigation into organized
crime and illegal oil trade. Three attempts had been made on
his life in the past two years, and his home was guarded by
police. In other news, Prime Minister-designate Viktor
Orban, on 2 July outlined his coalition government's program
in the parliament. Top priorities are strengthening the
defense of public security, tightening the penal code, and
remedying social injustice. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CLINTON BLAMES BOTH SIDES IN KOSOVA. President Bill Clinton
said in Hong Kong on 3 July that "Belgrade is primarily
responsible" for the fighting in Kosova, but he added that
"others, when they're having a good day or a good week on
the military front, may also be reluctant to actually engage
in dialogue." He concluded that "the conflict is going on.
Both sides are involved in it. There is some uncertainty
about who is willing and who is not willing to even
negotiate about it. And we're working on it as best we can."
Meanwhile in Tirana, five deserters from the Yugoslav army
arrived after being taken across the Albanian frontier by
fighters of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). A spokesman
for the Albanian Interior Ministry said that two soldiers
from Montenegro and three from Serbia "refused to kill women
and children" and deserted their units. The five all have
Muslim names, AP reported. PM

HOLBROOKE, MILOSEVIC TO MEET. U.S. Ambassador to the UN
Richard Holbrooke is scheduled to arrive in Belgrade on 3
July for talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic
aimed at defusing the crisis in Kosova. The previous day,
Milosevic called for urgent talks between Serbs and Kosovars
as "the only way" to solve the problem. He added that "there
are not, nor will there be any repressive actions against
the civilian population." Milosevic said that security
forces are protecting citizens and their property from
"bandits and terrorists." In Washington, a State Department
spokesman said that Holbrooke's aim is to persuade Milosevic
that "he's leading his country down the path to ruin and
that it's time for him to get it through his head that the
only course of wisdom is to pull back his forces, stop the
crackdown, stop the use of heavy military equipment, and
start...negotiations" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 July 1998).
PM

BOMB EXPLODES IN PRISHTINA. A bomb went off in a market in
an ethnic Serbian neighborhood in northwest Prishtina at 7
a.m. local time on 3 July. The explosion caused material
damage but no injuries, Reuters reported. No one claimed
responsibility. It was the first bombing in Prishtina since
Milosevic launched his crackdown at the end of February.
Also in Prishtina, Yugoslav air force jets continued low
flights over the city in a recently begun move that Kosovar
spokesmen say is intended to intimidate the ethnic Albanian
majority. Meanwhile, shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova
said the Kosovars are ready to "pay whatever price is
necessary" to achieve independence, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. PM

KIJEVA SIEGE OVER. Serbian forces broke through the UCK's
lines around Kijeva from the west shortly after dawn on 3
July, the semi-official Serbian Media Center reported.
Kosovar sources confirmed the story, Reuters added. The UCK
had cut off some 200 Serbian civilians and two dozen
policemen in the town for more than a week. Holbrooke
earlier called Kijeva "the most dangerous place in Europe"
and suggested that the confrontation could end with much
bloodshed. PM

ALBANIA TELLS UCK NOT TO ATTACK CIVILIANS. Prime Minister
Fatos Nano said in a statement on 2 July that "we, the
Albanian government, during our contact at different levels
with our partners in Kosova, have asked that acts of
violence on civilians of other ethnic groups be avoided." He
warned that attacks on civilians would cause the
international community to take a dim view of what Nano
called "this Albanian popular movement." He also appealed to
all Kosovar factions to agree on a joint negotiating
platform. PM

RUSSIA BLAMES KOSOVARS FOR CRISIS. Foreign Ministry
spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin told a briefing in Moscow on 2
July that "all outbursts of violence [in the province] were
reactions by the Serbian security forces to provocations by
Kosovar Albanians." He added that the Serbs will not be able
to withdraw their forces before the "provocations" have
ended. Rakhmanin noted that "only a political settlement can
bring unquestionable long-term results. Judging from recent
statements made in Washington and European capitals, such a
view is starting to gain force there as well" (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 2 July 1998). Rakhmanin called the UCK a
"terrorist group" that has no place in negotiations, which
are limited to political groups, Interfax wrote. PM

SOLANA SAYS 'NO MORE BOSNIAS.' NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana said in Sarajevo on 2 July that the Atlantic alliance
"will not permit" a Bosnian-type conflict to emerge in
Kosova. In Vienna, EU foreign affairs spokesman Hans van den
Broek argued that NATO could intervene in Kosova even
without a UN mandate if the conflict escalated. In Bonn, a
government spokesman said that German officials will take
steps to prevent the UCK from forcibly collecting
contributions from Kosovars living there and have appealed
to Rugova for help, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung"
reported. Holbrooke recently commented that forced
contributions from Kosovars in Western Europe are "vital"
for the UCK. Rugova's shadow state has depended for years on
a "tax" paid by Kosovars abroad. PM

SERBIA STOPS BROADCASTS BY PRISHTINA RADIO STATION. Serbian
police and an official of the Telecommunications Ministry
disabled the transmitter of Radio Kontakt in Prishtina on 1
July, the Association of Independent Electronic Media in
Yugoslavia (ANEM) said in a statement in Belgrade the
following day. Police also blocked the entrance to the
broadcasters' building. The ministry charged that the
station does not have a valid license, which officials of
Kontakt denied. The station began broadcasting music on 19
June and had no trouble with the authorities until 1 July,
when it began rebroadcasting news programs of independent
Belgrade Radio B-92, VOA, and BBC. ANEM added that Kontakt
is unique in Prishtina because it is the only station that
seeks to promote interethnic dialogue and broadcasts both in
Serbo-Croatian and in Albanian. PM

UN URGES CROATIA TO GUARD SERBS' RIGHTS. The Security
Council said in a statement in New York on 2 July that
"ethnically related incidents, evictions, and housing
intimidation cases" have been on the rise recently in
eastern Slavonia, which returned to Croatian administration
in January. "A continuation of this trend could have a
seriously negative effect on the restoration of a multi-
ethnic society in the Republic of Croatia," the text
concluded. In Rome, Pope John Paul II discussed his upcoming
trip to Croatia with Zagreb's Archbishop Josip Bozanic and
Split's Ante Juric. In October, the pontiff will visit
Croatia to proclaim Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac "blessed,"
which is the first step toward sainthood. Many Croatian
Catholics regard him as a martyr for his country and his
faith under communism. Many Serbs view him as at least an
accomplice in the Croatian Axis puppet state's persecution
of Serbs and other minorities. PM

ROMANIA BACKS HELICOPTER PROJECT DESPITE IMF WARNINGS. The
government on 2 July approved a deal with the U.S. Bell
Helicopter Textron company whereby it would guarantee a
$1.45 billion bond issue to finance the purchase of 96 AH-1-
RO Dracula helicopters based on the Cobra model, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. The decision meets the conditions
of Bell Helicopter Textron for purchasing a 70 percent stake
in the Gimbav Brasov aircraft plant. Finance Minister Daniel
Daianu and at least two other ministers abstained from
voting. The IMF last year criticized the deal as over
burdening the state budget. MS

IMF DELEGATION ENDS ROMANIAN VISIT. Meanwhile, an IMF
mission has wrapped up a visit to Romania to evaluate the
country's economic performance. An IMF press release at the
end of the visit was non-committal about renewing loans to
Romania and said an IMF mission may return in the fall to
review the implementation of the government's reform
program. On 2 July, Prime Minister Radu Vasile met with IMF
chief negotiator for Romania, Poul Thompsen. An IMF
communique released after that meeting praised "progress in
applying the market mechanism to monetary policies" but
warned that the budget deficit may "increase substantially
in the absence of revenue-enhancing measures and expenditure
savings." It also urged Romania to "give priority to the
privatization of autonomous state-owned companies and
restructuring the banking system." MS

MOLDOVAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL RESIGNS. Dumitru Postovan has
submitted his resignation to parliamentary chairman Dumitru
Diacov, who has yet to decide whether to accept it, Infotag
reported on 2 July. The agency said his resignation is
probably connected to the report released one day earlier by
the State Audit Office, which revealed gross violations of
financial and economic legislation among government
agencies. Postovan is a close friend of former Premier
Andrei Sangheli. Also on 2 July, the parliament set up a
special commission to recommend measures following the
findings of the State Audit Office. In other news, BASA-
press reported the previous day that deputies representing
the ruling coalition parties have submitted a draft law
amending legislation on political parties. The amendment
envisages raising the minimum number of members a party
needs to register from 300 to 10,000. MS

BULGARIA ANNOUNCES TELECOM PRIVATIZATION. Zachary
Zhelyazkov, director of the Bulgarian Privatization Agency,
told journalists in Sofia on 29 June that by the end of this
year, 51 percent of the stock in the Bulgarian
Telecommunications Company will be sold to private
investors, while the rest of the shares will remain in the
government's hands. He said the government hopes to find a
"strategic investor" capable of modernizing and developing
the company, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. MS

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