Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 149 Part II, 5 August 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 149 Part II, 5 August 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

* HAVEL REPORTED IN STABLE CONDITION

* HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN IN KOSOVA MASS GRAVE

* SCHUESSEL SAYS SITUATION 'TOO CONFUSED' FOR AIR STRIKES

End Note: KOSOVA'S ETHNIC ALBANIAN REFUGEES CLOSE TO
CATASTROPHE
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

INTERNATIONAL CONSORTIUM TO REINFORCE CHORNOBYL SARCOPHAGUS.
An international consortium has won a tender to reinforce
the sarcophagus covering the damaged reactor at the
Chornobyl nuclear power plant, AP reported on 4 August. The
consortium, headed by the French company Technique Atom,
includes British, German, and U.S. companies. The $5.4
million deal is the second stage of a broader project on
improving Chornobyl's safety. The funds will be used for,
among other things, the technical maintenance of and repairs
to the sarcophagus. Some 20 donor nations have pledged $400
million to make the concrete and steel sarcophagus
environmentally safe. JM

KUCHMA SACKS CHIEF AVIATION OFFICIAL. Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma has fired State Aviation Administration chief
Volodymyr Maksymov for failing to improve the safety of
Ukrainian air flights, AP reported on 4 August. The formal
reason for the dismissal was Maksimov's failure to implement
Kuchma's January 1998 decree on measures to tighten air
transport regulations. The decree was issued shortly after a
Ukrainian Yak-42 crashed in Greece, killing 70 people. Last
month, a Ukrainian Il-76 aircraft fell into the sea near the
United Arab Emirates, killing all eight people on board, and
a Ukrainian Il-78 military plane crashed in Eritrea, killing
10 people. JM

UKRAINE SETTLES BORDER DISPUTE WITH MOLDOVA. During Moldovan
Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc's visit to Kyiv on 4 August,
agreement was reached on resolving a border dispute in an
area near the Danube delta. Under that agreement, Moldova
will receive a small area of Ukrainian territory to build an
oil terminal on the banks of the River Danube. In exchange,
Ukraine will receive a section of the road connecting the
Ukrainian cities of Odessa and Izmail. Ukrainian Prime
Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko said that Moldova is
Ukraine's strategic partner and that economic relations
between both countries must be intensified. JM

BELARUSIAN PRIVATE NOTARIES CLOSE OFFICES. Since 1 August,
Belarusian private notary offices have ceased operations,
"Beloruskaya Delovaya Gazeta" reported on 3 August. The
reason for that move is President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's
May decree ordering private notaries to transfer 77 percent
of their fees to the state and pay taxes on the remaining 23
percent. An edict issued by Lukashenka one month later
increased the percentage of fees to be transferred to 81
percent. In addition, a government directive in January
ordered the private notaries to pay taxes retroactively for
the period 1993-1997. In July, the Chamber of Private
Notaries adopted a resolution ceasing operations as of 1
August. JM

LATVIA TO CONTINUE WITH PLANS TO UNILATERALLY DEMARCATE
BORDER. Latvian Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs told BNS on
4 August that Latvia will not give up its plan to
unilaterally demarcate the border with Russia. Birkavs was
responding to an appeal by Russian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin that Latvia abandon those plans
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1998). The Latvian minister
said Riga has met many demands by Russia, including
amendment to its citizenship law. And he argued that his
country cannot be blamed for the failure to sign the border
treaty with Russia. JC

NEW CAUCUS JOINS LATVIAN RULING COALITION. Prime Minister
Guntars Krasts told a news conference on 4 August that the
caucuses of the ruling coalition parties have signed an
agreement allowing a new caucus to join the coalition, BNS
reported. The new parliamentary group, the fourth largest in
the legislature, has been set up by the Labor Party, the
Christian Democratic Union, and the Green Party, which have
formed an alliance for the October parliamentary elections.
JC

LATVIAN CABINET MINISTERS SIGN PROTEST AGAINST BUTINGE.
Nearly all members of the Latvian government have already
signed an appeal saying that an oil terminal at Butinge,
Lithuania, should not be constructed without a thorough
environmental study, BNS reported on 4 August. Foreign
Minister Birkavs, who signed the appeal several days ago,
stressed that he is not opposed to the terminal's
construction, which, he said, is an internal affair of
Lithuania. But he noted that he has always supported the
"observance of environmental norms" in the Baltic Sea. JC

POLISH FARMERS BLOCK ROADS TO PROTEST GRAIN IMPORTS...
Polish farmers on 4 August blocked roads with tractors to
protest grain imports and low prices for domestic grain.
Police reported that 54 road blocks had been erected mainly
in northern provinces of the country, while the farmers'
unions put the number at 200. "We demand cheap credits,
protection of the domestic market, and a system of contracts
that would ensure that farm output can be sold," Andrzej
Lepper, one of the protest organizers, told Reuters. JM

...WHILE GOVERNMENT PLEDGES MEASURES TO APPEASE FARMERS.
Deputy Prime Minister Jerzy Tomaszewski called the protests
a "great surprise to the government" and said they were
"political" rather than aimed at protecting farmers'
interests. He added that on 6 August, the government will
introduce threshold prices on grain imports in accordance
with its earlier announcement. Agricultural Minister Jacek
Janiszewski pledged that beginning on 15 August, the state-
run Agricultural Market Agency will buy grain from Polish
farmers in an emergency procurement measure. He also
promised state subsidies to private companies that buy
Polish grain. JM

HAVEL REPORTED IN STABLE CONDITION. Doctors treating Czech
President Vaclav Havel used electric shocks during the night
of 3-4 August during a two-hour crisis in which Havel's
heart rate soared to 200 beats a minute, the CTK reported on
4 August, quoting Ilja Kotik, who heads the Czech medical
team treating Havel. He was later reported to be in a stable
condition. Doctors say he experienced a "temporarily
critical" condition but his life was not in danger at any
time. MS

KOHL CRITICIZES ZEMAN OVER SUDETEN GERMAN COMMENT.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl said in an interview with RTL
television on 4 August that Czech Premier Milos Zeman's
comparison of an organization representing the Sudeten
Germans with Communists and neo-Nazis is "totally
unacceptable." Kohl said it is "incomprehensible" how such
"absurd remarks" could be made by a head of government. He
said that the next time he meets Zeman, "I will tell him
that if his idea of good neighborhood means insulting a
group of people who suffered just as your people suffered
under the Germans, then you cannot expect that we will be
good neighbors," AP reported. Czech Deputy Premier Egon
Lansky said Kohl's comments were based on a " totally
incorrect interpretation" of what Zeman said. The Czech
government "will make no further comment" to German
politicians' reactions to Zeman's statement, Lansky added.
MS

HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL SEEKS TO END JOB DISCRIMINATION. Jeno
Kaltenbach, ombudsman for minority rights, has appealed to
the Ministry of Justice to examine the possibility of
drafting new bills that would end discrimination on the
country's labor market, Hungarian media reported on 4 August
. Kaltenbach's move came after a private-building contractor
sought "white labor" through an advertisement in the
"Expressz" daily. The contractor admitted that he wanted to
keep Roma from applying, arguing that his regular employees
refuse to work with them and that clients will not talk to
him if he is accompanied by them. Kaltenbach said the
advertisement violated the constitution, minority rights and
the labor code. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN IN KOSOVA MASS GRAVE. Local eye-
witnesses took several foreign journalists on 4 August to
the site of at least two mass graves near Rahovec, which
fell to Serbian paramilitary police and Yugoslav army forces
after clashes with the Kosova Liberation Army in mid-July
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 July 1998). The Vienna daily "Die
Presse" wrote that Kosovar grave-diggers have already opened
one of the graves and found "the corpses of more than 500
people, of whom 400 were children. The second grave may
contain about 1,000 bodies." The grave-diggers said that the
paramilitary forces of Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan" committed
the killings, but Western observers hold the Serbian police
responsible, the newspaper added. Kosovar spokesmen recently
told "RFE/RL Newsline" that the police include many veterans
of the "ethnic cleansing" campaigns in Croatia and Bosnia.
PM

UNHCR WARNS OF 'ETHNIC CLEANSING.' The United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees sent a relief convoy from
Prishtina to the Malisheva area on 4 August, but the
vehicles had to stop at Qirez in the Skenderaj region
because of heavy fighting. Relief workers could see Lausha
and other nearby ethnic Albanian villages on fire. The
UNHCR's Chris Janowski said in Geneva that the convoy
"cannot go into a battlefield." He compared the latest
developments in Kosova to the Serbian ethnic-cleansing
campaigns in Bosnia and added that if this is an attempt to
drive Kosovar Albanians out of Kosova, "that would be total
lunacy." PM

RED CROSS FEARS EPIDEMICS. In Prishtina, UNHCR spokesmen
estimated that some 200,000 people, or 10 percent of
Kosova's total population, have been displaced since
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic launched his crackdown
in February. Officials of the World Food Program added that
some 70,000 have taken to the roads since the current
offensive began just over one week ago. Red Cross officials
warned that "serious epidemics" could break out on Mount
Berisha in central Kosova, where several thousand people are
living in the open, AFP reported. PM

SCHUESSEL SAYS SITUATION 'TOO CONFUSED' FOR AIR STRIKES.
Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel, whose country
holds the EU chair, told the Hamburg weekly "Die Woche" that
the situation in Kosova is "too confused" for any air
strikes there to be effective, dpa reported on 5 August. He
added that only ground troops could help secure a cease-fire
but that the UN would not agree to outside intervention
because of Russian and Chinese opposition. Meanwhile in
Belgrade, Tanjug quoted Serbian Prime Minister Mirko
Marjanovic as saying that attempts to put down the UCK's
insurgency are a justified defense of national sovereignty.
"We will suppress any violence in [the province].... We
shall win this battle," he added. PM

HILL VISITS DEVASTATED AREA. Christopher Hill, who is U.S.
ambassador to Macedonia and Washington's principal
negotiator in Kosova, said after visiting central Kosova on
4 August that he is "particularly concerned about the
activities of the security services that are out there
now.... We observed a number of structures in villages and
towns that were burning as of today. We did not see any
signs, however, of any fighting today," Hill told Reuters.
He said he visited one village where male inhabitants who
had returned for food and water for families hiding in the
hills said tanks had fired on houses. "They brought me a
shell from a T-55 tank and said they had many more like
that. I saw some tank rounds on the ground in another
village." Kosovar spokesman Veton Surroi added that he saw
one house go up in flames seconds after two uniformed police
emerged from it. "We saw police burning houses and looting
shops," Surroi noted. PM

WESTWARD FLOW OF KOSOVARS CONTINUES. Some 600 persons, half
of whom are Kosovar refugees, leave Albania by boat each day
to try to enter Italy illegally, Deutsche Welle reported on
5 August. Of that number, only about 200 are caught at sea
and sent back (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1998). Those
Kosovars who reach land are interned in detention camps.
Meanwhile in Bonn, Bavarian Interior Minister Martin
Beckstein said that camps for Kosovar refugees should be set
up in Italy and northern Albania as part of a "European
system of burden-sharing," the "Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung" wrote. He said that Germany will not deport any
Kosovars currently living there "except for law-breakers,"
but he warned against any general recognition of Kosovars as
refugees from a civil war. Beckstein added that such
recognition would lead to an influx of refugees into
Germany, as was the case during the Bosnian war, and that
Germany cannot agree to that. PM

SERBIAN PEACE GROUP CALLS FOR PROTECTORATE. The Serbian
peace organization Women in Black appealed to the
international community in a statement in Belgrade on 4
August to establish a protectorate over Kosova "as soon as
possible." The text called on the international community to
exert "all possible pressure on all warring parties to
desist from using armed force and [carrying out] ethnic
cleansing" and from violating human rights, the Belgrade
daily "Danas" wrote. Women in Black is one of the best known
and oldest peace groups in the former Yugoslavia. Meanwhile
in Podgorica, the People's Party, the Social Democrats, and
the Democratic Socialist Party are opposed to the recent
proposal of Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement that
the authorities declare a state of emergency in Kosova.
Leaders of the three parties feel that such a move would
bind Montenegro all the closer to Milosevic's policies
there, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin
capital. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER MEETS WITH ARAFAT. Prime Minister Radu
Vasile, who is on a four-day visit to Israel, met with
Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat in Ramallah on 4 August and
offered his country's "good services" to mediate in the
dispute with Israel over the withdrawal of Israeli forces
from the West Bank, an RFE/RL correspondent in Tel Aviv
reported. Vasile also met in Modiin with Romanian workers in
Israel, who complained about working and housing conditions
as well as unpaid wages. He promised to appoint an embassy
official to examine their complaints. The same day, Vasile
and Israeli parliamentary deputies agreed to establish a
joint commission to examine the restitution of Jewish
property seized by the fascist and communist regimes.
Mediafax reported that Vasile was "angered" by remarks of a
National Religious Party deputy who accused Romania of
"indifference" toward "vandalism" in desecrated Jewish
cemeteries. Vasile said the accusation was based on
"misinformation." MS

MOLDOVAN COALITION LEADERS TRY TO MEND FENCES. Parliamentary
chairman Dumitru Diacov on 4 August said on Moldovan
television that the ruling Alliance for Democratic Reforms
"is viable and will carry out its goals," BASA-press
reported. He expressed "regret" that the intra-alliance
agreement was violated when the For a Democratic and
Prosperous Moldova Bloc voted jointly with the opposition
Party of Moldovan Communists on the transit of Bulgarian
nuclear waste to Russia and on the nomination of the new
prosecutor-general (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August 1998).
He said this was "the last time" that this will happen.
Iurie Rosca, parliamentary deputy chairman and co-chairman
of the Democratic Convention of Moldova, told journalists on
4 August that all disputes within the alliance "will be
overcome," but he added that voting with the Communists
remains "unacceptable." MS

BULGARIAN OPPOSITION DAILY TEMPORARILY SUSPENDS PUBLICATION.
"Duma," the daily of the opposition Socialist Party, will
not be printed for the next two weeks, BTA quoted party
spokeswoman Iliana Yotova as saying on 4 August . The
previous day, the Rodina publishing company announced that
the newspaper will not be printed owing to debts totaling
186 million leva (some $100,000). "Duma" editor in chief
Todor Koruev told Bulgarian national radio on 4 August that
the crisis within the newspaper reflects the "overall
financial and ideological crisis within the party itself."
He said some 10 journalists have quit the daily in the last
months because of the financial crisis and that the
remaining journalists do not want to transform "Duma" into a
"tabloid," as "some people inside the BSP" are urging them
to do. MS

END NOTE

KOSOVA'S ETHNIC ALBANIAN REFUGEES CLOSE TO CATASTROPHE

by Kitty McKinsey

	The scenes across much of the southern Serbian
province of Kosova in recent days are reminiscent of the
worst days of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Long
lines of tractor-drawn carts slowly carrying terrified women
and children away from the smoldering remains of their
shelled and burned homes. Refugees cowering in forests with
only the clothes on their back, little food or water, no
medicine, and no shelter.
	Contrary to promises made by Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic last week, the Serbian and Yugoslav
offensive in Kosova is not over. In fact, observers on the
scene say that the offensive has escalated, driving another
35,000-70,000 ethnic Albanians from their homes in recent
days.
	 According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees,
the total number now displaced from their homes in more than
five months of fighting could top 200,000. That figure
includes those who have sought refuge in neighboring Albania
and the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, as well as those on
the move inside Kosova.
	With the escalation of the Serbian offensive, ethnic
Albanians say the Serbs are no longer battling the
separatist Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) but are
concentrating on driving ethnic Albanian civilians from
their homes. They say that Serbian forces are shelling and
burning homes of ethnic Albanians who have already fled to
ensure that they will not return.
	Moderate ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova charged
that "Serbian forces kill civilians, burn and destroy
settlements and entire villages, and carry out ethnic
cleansing."
	Mans Nyberg, spokesman for the UNHCR in Prishtina,
said he and his fellow aid workers have seen "countless
houses burning in practically every village we passed
through." He adds: "It is very difficult to see any sound
military objective for such behavior by the Serbian police
forces."
	Only in the last few days have international relief
agencies been able to reach any of the fugitives hiding in
the mountains and dense forests of Kosova. They have found
desperate people camping in the open, sleeping under trees
and even in dry river-beds, without any blankets, mattresses
or tents. In one area, relief workers discovered that five
women had given birth within the last four days. It is,
Nyberg says, "a humanitarian catastrophe in the making."
	Mick Lorentzen, emergency coordinator for the UN's
World Food Program in Prishtina, says that the main problem
is that whole villages are on the move: "Within the mountain
range itself, there's an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 people
and this is not the only area that's being affected. People
are moving every day. It's a changing situation. The forests
are very, very dense, so it's sometimes hard to find them.
How much longer are they going to stay out, nobody knows."
	Both Nyberg and Lorentzen agree that the fugitives are
far too terrified and distrustful of Serbian authorities to
return to their villages right now.
	Lorentzen says that while he was in the mountains
delivering food to refugees on 2 August, the Yugoslav
government air-dropped leaflets telling the refugees it was
safe for them to return to their villages, and that if they
did, they would be protected. As the refugees were reading
the flyers, Lorentzen said, they could hear Serbian shelling
just a kilometer away. Lorentzen concludes : "The people are
just not going to return while this is going on." He also
questions what they have to go home to after so much
destruction by Yugoslav and Serb forces.
	Another major problem is that Serbian forces are
routinely blocking attempts by aid agencies to reach people
in distress. "This is very serious obstruction," says
Nyberg. "President Milosevic has repeatedly assured the
humanitarian organizations that they have free access, they
can go anywhere they want. The same has been assured to us
by the police commander in Prishtina. In spite of all this,
it happens almost on a daily basis that our field teams are
being stopped by police at checkpoints and being refused
access."
	The UNHCR has added its voice to that of many
countries around the world in appealing to Milosevic to halt
the Serbian offensive and allow his ethnic Albanian citizens
to live a normal life again.

The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent.

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