It is easier to love humanity than to love one's neighbor. - Eric Hoffer
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 145 Part II, 30 July 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 145 Part II, 30 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

* TWELVE RUSSIAN GOVERNORS EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR LUKASHENKA

* SERBIAN OFFENSIVE CONTINUES IN KOSOVA

* STILL NO AGREEMENT WITH UCK

End Note: METHOD TO LUKASHENKA'S MISCHIEF?
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

TWELVE RUSSIAN GOVERNORS EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR LUKASHENKA.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on 29 July met
with 12 Russian governors who were in Belarus on an official
visit to take part in festivities marking the 54th
anniversary of the liberation of Brest from German troops,
ITAR-TASS reported. But according to an RFE/RL correspondent
in Minsk, the main reason for the governors' visit was to
express political support for Lukashenka in the continuing
diplomatic conflict over the eviction of Western ambassadors
from the Drazdy residential compound. Yaroslavl Governor
Anatolii Lisitsyn told Belarusian Television on 28 July that
Lukashenka's "independent policy" is supported by 90 percent
of the residents in his region. Belarusian official media
had announced last week that as many as 40 Russian governors
were expected to come to Belarus to meet with Lukashenka. JM

LUKASHENKA DEMANDS MORE CONTROL OVER FORESTRY. Lukashenka
has demanded that government officials "introduce order"
into the republic's forestry sector, Belarusian Television
reported on 28 July. According to the television station,
the country's timber trade is controlled by "small firms and
profiteers" who export timber "for a song." It added that
the West readily allots credits for developing Belarusian
forests but does not support the wood-processing industry in
Belarus. Lukashenka stressed that Belarus has only three
main natural resources: water, wood, and potash fertilizers.
He demanded to know why "those brokering swindlers bought
timber for...1 million Belarusian rubles (some $25) per
cubic meter and exported it for $800-$1,000." The report
suggested that Belarus will introduce licenses for timber
exporters. JM

UKRAINE ALLOCATES FUNDS TO ASSIST CRIMEAN TATARS. The
Ukrainian government has allocated 1 million hryvni
($475,000) to help resettle Crimean Tatars who were expelled
from their homeland by Joseph Stalin during World War II, AP
reported. The funds will be used to improve gas and water
supplies to Tatar settlements near the Crimean capital of
Simferopol. Another 7 million hryvni will be provided to
Tatars in the form of construction materials and equipment.
Last month, a UN-sponsored conference of 26 donor countries
in Kyiv pledged some $5 million to build infrastructure,
create new jobs, and provide for cultural needs of the
returning Tatars. JM

ESTONIAN CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR UPBEAT ON ECONOMY. Vahur
Kraft told journalists on 29 July that Estonia is not
threatened by an economic crisis and that there are no
problems in Estonian banking that could jeopardize the
economy, ETA reported. Kraft's statement was backed up by
visiting IMF representative Ishan Kapur, who said Estonia is
living up to the promises it gave the fund. "We have reason
to be certain that the developments of the next six to 12
months [will be] in harmony with the agreements that have
been signed by the IMF and the government," Kapur said. He
added that the country's major economic problems are
currently the huge current account deficit and inflation. JC

LATVIA TO BEGIN UNILATERALLY DEMARCATING BORDER WITH RUSSIA.
Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs told reporters on 30
July that Latvia will start unilaterally demarcating the
border with Russia "as talks on signing the [Latvian-
Russian] border agreement are making no headway," BNS
reported. "It should not be viewed as an unfriendly act but
as a wish to settle the borders which are already signed at
the level of delegations," he added. Birkavs also pointed
out that the description of the border and the delimitation
maps have been completed. JC

VILNIUS REACHES DEAL WITH WILLIAMS. Lithuanian Economy
Minister Vincas Babilius on 30 July signed a letter of
intent with Williams International Co., a subsidiary of
U.S.-based Williams Cos. Inc., to sell the firm one-third
stakes in the nation's three key oil companies for $300
million, Reuters reported. Williams is to pay $150 million
for 33 percent stakes in the oil refiner Mazheikiu, an oil
pipeline owned by Naftotiekis, and the planned oil terminal
Butinges Nafta. It will later reinvest another $150 million.
The agreement is a compromise on Williams' original offer
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 July 1998). Vilnius had valued
the companies at some $390 million but agreed to exclude
some $40 million worth of assets from Mazheikiu, Babilius
told Reuters. "We have met Williams halfway. The price did
not go up; we simply decreased the value of the objects by
taking away some parts," Babilius said. JC

POLISH PREMIER CONDEMNS DESECRATION OF JEWISH GRAVES. Prime
Minister Jerzy Buzek on 29 July condemned an attack on
Jewish graves at the Palmiry cemetery near Warsaw. In the
cemetery, there are some 2,000 graves of Jews and Poles
executed by the Nazis in 1939-41. Vandals broke off name
plaques from some 30 Jewish tombstones and scattered them in
the adjacent woods. They also damaged the memorial to Maciej
Rataj, a speaker of the Polish parliament before World War
II. "This is a shocking act. In our country graves have
always been honored," Reuters quoted Buzek as saying. Jerzy
Buzek and parliamentary speaker Maciej Plazynski both laid
flowers at the damaged graves. JM

SOLIDARITY COALITION EXPELS FORMER PARTNER, ACCEPTS ANOTHER.
The National Council of the ruling Solidarity Electoral
Action (AWS) voted on 29 July to expel from its ranks the
Confederation for an Independent Poland-Patriotic Camp led
by Adam Slomka, PAP reported. Slomka, who was also AWS
deputy chairman, was expelled from the AWS parliamentary
caucus after he did not vote with the party over the number
of future provinces (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June and 17
July 1998). The council also decided to accept into its
ranks the National-Catholic Movement, led by former Interior
Minister Antoni Maciarewicz. JM

HUNGARY WILL NOT SEND TROOPS TO KOSOVA. Prime Minister
Viktor Orban on 29 July said Hungary will not participate in
any "direct military operation" in Kosova, Hungarian media
reported. Orban told journalists after visiting the U.S.
military base in Taszar, southwestern Hungary, that
"Hungarian soldiers can under no circumstances face [other]
Hungarian soldiers." He was referring to the fact that
several hundred ethnic Hungarians are conscripts in the
Yugoslav army in Kosova (see also "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July
1998). He added that Hungary is nonetheless ready to offer
its military bases as a launching point for NATO military
operations in Kosova. MSZ

BUDAPEST READY TO FINANCE HUNGARIAN UNIVERSITY IN ROMANIA.
Zsolt Nemeth, state secretary at the Hungarian Foreign
Ministry, told national television on 28 July that the
cabinet headed by Orban is ready to finance a Hungarian-
language university in the Transylvanian city of Cluj. He
said that the only obstacle to reopening that university is
the Romanian government's hesitation to make its views known
"on this delicate matter." MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN OFFENSIVE CONTINUES IN KOSOVA. Serbian paramilitary
police and Yugoslav army troops took control of the road
linking Mitrovica and Peja in northern Kosova on 29 July.
They also continued their attacks on Junik, which is
controlled by the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 28 July 1998). Heavy fighting also took place in
the Gjakova region along the Albanian border. Serbian police
killed four UCK fighters and captured seven others who had
tried to take control of a stretch of the road linking
Malisheva and Kijeva, Serbian sources reported from
Prishtina. Kosovar sources said that up to 300,000 ethnic
Albanian civilians have fled their homes throughout the
province as a result of the fighting and that many live "in
the forests and without basic necessities of life." PM

RUGOVA CALLS FOR ACTION. Shadow-state President Ibrahim
Rugova said in Prishtina on 29 July that he and leaders of
other political groups have reached a compromise on setting
up a coalition government, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. He did not elaborate. Rugova also called upon the
U.S., EU, and international community to take measures to
"prevent ethnic cleansing and the stem the flow of
refugees." PM

STILL NO AGREEMENT WITH UCK. In the Drenica region, U.S.
Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill continued talks
with UCK representatives about their forming a joint team
with the civilians to negotiate with the Serbian authorities
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 1998). He did not finalize
the deal, which involves the UCK being represented in talks
by politicians close to it, Reuters reported. An unnamed
senior U.S. diplomat told the news agency that the
guerrillas are still "considering" the proposal. Observers
noted that the recent reverses suffered by the UCK on the
battlefield may be a factor in holding up their agreement on
joining any future talks. PM

UCK SOLDIERS AT TIRANA RALLY. More than a dozen UCK soldiers
attended a meeting of the nationalist Albanian National
Movement on 29 July in central Tirana. Idajet Beqiri, a
deputy leader of the movement, introduced to those present a
UCK commander called "Skender," who urged the participants
to support the UCK's "fight for the national liberation from
the occupier." Beqiri called for setting up a "Front of
National Unity" among ethnic Albanians everywhere to draft a
joint program for a solution to the Kosovar problem, "Koha
Jone" reported. Daut Gumeni, who is the secretary of
President Rexhep Meidani, was present and praised the plans
for closer cooperation between Kosovars and Albanians. He
added that "such a movement would also compensate" for the
inability of the government for political reasons to support
the UCK openly. FS

MORE SHELLS HIT ALBANIA. Albanian border guards in Tropoja
told "Gazeta Shqiptare" that there were six separate
incidents in which Serbian forces fired with mortars and
machine guns on Albanian territory on 28 and 29 July at
different areas in the Has Mountains and near Tropoja.
Nobody was injured in any of the incidents, but one shell
almost hit four children near Padesh, in Albania. Meanwhile
in Tirana, the parliament met in closed session on 28 July
to discuss the security situation with Foreign Minister
Paskal Milo and Interior Minister Perikli Teta. No results
of that meeting were reported. FS

ARGENTINA TO SEND NADA SAKIC TO CROATIA. Victor Ramos, who
is the head of the Argentine government's anti-racism unit,
said in Buenos Aires on 29 July that the authorities will
soon deport Nada Sakic to Croatia. He added that Argentina
has turned down Yugoslavia's request for her extradition
because the atrocities took place on what is now Croatian
territory. Both Zagreb and Belgrade want her to stand trial
on charges of war crimes she allegedly committed at a
concentration camp during World War II. Argentina recently
extradited Nada Sakic's husband, Dinko, to Croatia to stand
trial on similar charges of war crimes. PM

SHELLINGS, EXPLOSIONS IN BOSNIA. Some 70 Muslims returned to
their former homes in the Croatian-held Stolac region on 29
July. Before they arrived, unidentified persons fired mortar
shells at five of their houses. The Stolac region has
witnessed many Croatian nationalist attacks on Muslims or
their property since the Dayton agreement was signed at the
end of 1995. Meanwhile in Muslim-controlled Kakanj in
central Bosnia, a bomb damaged a Roman Catholic church.
Bosnian Croats have frequently complained about harassment
and discrimination by Muslims in that region. And in
Sarajevo, a bomb went off outside the offices of the
independent bi-monthly "Dani." The magazine's offices have
been the scene of several incidents recently following
"Dani's" publication of an article linking some members of
the Muslim political establishment to organized crime (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 1998). PM

BOSNIAN SERB POLICE STORM RADIO STATION. In Pale on 29 June,
police loyal to Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic
stormed the offices of Radio Serbian Sarajevo, whose hard-
line management refused to accept their recent dismissal by
Plavsic's government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1998).
In Sarajevo, the governing board of Radio-Television Bosnia-
Herzegovina elected Mirsad Purivatra as its new director.
Elsewhere, spokesmen for the office of the international
community's Carlos Westendorp said that Bosnian nationals
may legally hold dual citizenship provided that the other
country in question has signed an agreement on dual
citizenship with Bosnia. To date, however, no country has
done so. Many Bosnian Serbs have Yugoslav passports, and
Croatia freely issues its travel documents to Bosnian
Croats, who are allowed to vote in Croatian parliamentary
elections. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER ATTACKS 'ANTI-REFORM MANEUVERS.' Prime
Minister Radu Vasile on 29 July said he will "not admit" the
"perverse maneuvers of anti-reform forces". He added that
"any blocking of the reform process will place a question
mark over [the country's] future." Speaking in Ramnicu
Valcea at festivities marking Romania's first-ever "Day of
the National Anthem," Vasile attacked unnamed trade union
leaders and "extremist parties" for attempts to hinder the
reform process. He also said it is "inadmissible" that the
Financial Guard has delivered to the state budget only some
6 million lei ($687) in exposed tax evasions when some 30
percent of Romania's economic activity takes place
"underground." He again criticized the State Property Fund
for being inefficient and over-bureaucratized, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. MS

ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER ON POSSIBLE COALITION CRISIS.
Daniel Daianu on 29 July said there are indications that
"dissenting forces reminiscent of those that brought about
the fall of the [Victor] Ciorbea cabinet" are now emerging
in the ruling coalition, Mediafax reported. In an interview
with Reuters, Daianu rejected Premier Vasile's recent
accusations that his ministry failed to bring in sufficient
tax revenues and said he needs the support of the whole
coalition, not merely that of the National Liberal Party
(PNL), to carry out reform. Daianu said at a meeting with
the PNL leadership the same day that "under no
circumstances" will he stay in the cabinet if the contract
with the U.S.'s Bell Helicopters is approved. PNL deputy
chairman Valeriu Stoica said the party will withdraw its
support for Daianu if he fails to adhere to its decisions.
Agriculture Minister Dinu Gavrilescu and Industry Minister
Radu Berceanu also criticized the performance of the Finance
Ministry. MS

ROMANIAN DEFENSE COUNCIL DISCUSSES NATIONAL SECURITY. The
Supreme National Defense Council, which is chaired by
President Emil Constantinescu, discussed the country's
national defense strategy on 29 July. Presidential counselor
Dorin Marian said on national television after the meeting
that the discussion was prompted by the need to "update" the
strategy in light of developments in the course of the last
year, particularly NATO and EU expansion. The council said
joining the two organizations and cooperating with them will
continue to be Romania's main focus. It added that the
country's main objectives are "protection of [the country's]
citizens, safeguarding fundamental and individual rights,"
promoting Romania's international interests, and supporting
the "ethnic identity" of Romanians who live beyond the
country's borders. The document approved by the council is
to be discussed with political parties and put to public
debate by 15 August. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER DISCUSS NATIONAL MINORITIES
POLICIES. President Petar Stoyanov on 28 July urged Premier
Kostov to speed up the ratification of the Framework
Convention on the Protection of National Minorities.
Bulgaria signed that document some 18 months ago. The
premier said after the meeting that the government is "ready
to seek consensus" for its ratification. Foreign Minister
Nadezhda Mihailova, who also attended the meeting with
Stoyanov, said consensus-seeking rather than a "strong-arm
policy" is required when "serious problems concerning the
nation" are at issue, BTA reported.

END NOTE

METHOD TO LUKASHENKA'S MISCHIEF?

by Christopher Walker

	As the controversy surrounding the Drazdy diplomatic
housing compound in Minsk continues, it may be useful to
examine more closely Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka's strategy for diverting attention from domestic
ills in Belarus, while simultaneously consolidating his
position as one of the most effective populist politicians
in the post-Soviet world.
	While the boorish action taken by Belarusian
authorities against foreign diplomats is emblematic of
Lukashenka's blatant disregard of international norms, this
approach has also served his purposes, helping him to
burnish his image as a politician prepared to stand up to
the West and further his goal of becoming a player on a
larger stage in the former Soviet Union. Lukashenka's recent
public dialogue with Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov provided a
forum in which Lukashenka could portray the West as a bully
set on dictating terms of behavior to former Soviet states,
thus rallying his base in Belarus and gaining political
mileage with Russians frustrated by the slow pace of
economic reform.
	Lukashenka's railing against the West is part of an
ongoing effort to blame present-day economic pain on Western
reform programs and methods rather than on the backward
Soviet era policies that originally brought on economic
implosion. In Russia, where a great deal of reform has been
undertaken, the distress resulting from social and economic
dislocation has created an environment where reforms already
applied are more closely associated with current pain than
the decades of Soviet communism that crippled the country's
economy and infrastructure.
	Whether Lukashenka will be able to wedge himself more
deeply into the Russian political scene is not yet clear,
but if he fails, it will not be for lack of trying. Albeit
on a limited scale, the Belarusian president continues to
travel to Russia and to broadcast his populist, Soviet-style
message via Belarusian State Radio to Russian regions. As
times get tougher, Lukashenka's claims of Western heavy-
handedness and his own promises of stability and order may
gain greater currency.
	Lukashenka will not likely ignore the fact that Boris
Yeltsin nearly had to beg the Western financial community to
stave off collapse of the Russian ruble and financial
markets. The tough conditions set by the IMF to encourage
needed restructuring of the Russian economy may be
characterized by some as a noose being tightened around the
country's economic neck, rather than medicine to help it get
better. With the Russian economy and so many of its key
institutions in disarray, it is easy to understand how many
Russians could be led to the conclusion that the West does
not have Russia's best interests at heart or at least is not
fully sensitive to the depth of the hardships being
experienced there. Loss of prestige as a world power is now
as palpable as ever in Russia, and Lukashenka does not
hesitate to play upon this sensitivity.
	In Belarus, the operative word is "control." This
wide-ranging control enables Lukashenka to exert his
authority over virtually all spheres of Belarusian life. He
himself deems this governing style as necessary for avoiding
the problems Russia and other former Soviet republics are
now facing. This domination extends over the judiciary,
parliament, media, NGO community, and economy. It is,
however, Belarus's own poor economic health under
Lukashenka's stewardship that may be his greatest domestic
political problem.
	It is telling that during the dispute over diplomats'
housing, both the IMF and the World Bank recalled their
respective representatives from Belarus. The IMF and the
World Bank explained that move by citing Belarus's failure
to fulfill mutual agreements and the obdurate refusal of the
regime to implement serious economic reform. With its low
levels of foreign investment and privatization and its heavy
reliance on barter arrangements with Russia, the World
Bank's country director for Belarus has said that the
Belarusian government needs "to have a fundamental
rethinking of its economic strategy".
	Russians may have been compelled to swallow their
collective pride in requesting this latest massive IMF loan
package, but Belarusians will enjoy only short-term relief
from their own government's economic policies, such as
restriction on foreign exchange trading and other quick-fix
measures taken in Minsk to prop up the Belarusian ruble. In
addition, Lukashenka's attempt to distinguish Belarus from
Russia with respect to wage arrears has been simply to
direct his treasury to print more money in order to pay
workers, thus raising the specter of inflationary pressures.
	But while Lukashenka and his inner circle may possess
a weak grasp of market economics, he does understand the
politics of the economic and social pain experienced by
people in former Soviet republics. The very issues to which
Lukashenka routinely refers--corruption, fraud, wage
arrears, profiteering, and economic insecurity--are, in
fact, those which plague Russia.
	As Russia contends with its most severe economic
crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lukashenka
gathers more fodder for his arguments against the incomplete
results of Western-style reform. The stakes are high.
Russia's internal situation is weak and its foreign policy--
less Western-friendly since the parliamentary elections of
December 1994--is being contested by nationalist xenophobes
and those who seek greater integration into and cooperation
with the West.
	With all of his apparent limitations, there is a
danger that in some disturbing ways, the times in post-
Soviet Russia could increasingly be more suited to
Lukashenka and his brand of populist politics. Though
Lukashenka may not be able to make good on his claim of
being "president for life", he may remain in power long
enough to cause a great deal of discomfort to those hoping
for greater cooperation and integration east of the newest
NATO member countries.
	Never short on surprises, Lukashenka has made
stability his rallying cry at home; at the same time, his
approach will generate just the opposite effect abroad.

The author is based in Prague and manager of programs at the
European Journalism Network.

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