Experience is in the fingers and head. The heart is inexperienced. - Henry David Thoreau
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 154, Part II, 12 August 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 154, Part II, 12 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

* SLOVAK OPPOSITION LEADERS SEE ELECTION BOYCOTT AS POSSIBLE

* HUNGARIAN POLICE INVESTIGATE PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL
ALLEGATIONS

* SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES NO ACTION ON KOSOVA

End Note
UKRAINIANS SUPPORT BOTH UKRAINIAN AND RUSSIAN LANGUAGES

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE DENIES SHIPPING ARMS TO TALIBAN. Ukrainian Foreign
Ministry spokesman Yuriy Yermylko has rejected claims by the
Afghan ambassadors to the UN and Russia that the Ukrainian
mafia is shipping aircraft, tanks, and machine guns to the
Taliban militia through Pakistan, Ukrainian Television
reported on 11 August. He stressed that the sources of
information in both statements have not been identified.
Yermylko added that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is trying
to obtain official information about the statements through
its embassy in Moscow and mission at the UN in New York. JM

PUSTOVOYTENKO PRESSES FOR TAX COLLECTION. Ukrainian Prime
Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko, who is also chief of
Ukraine's Civilian Defense, has ordered some 1,000 Ukrainian
managers to take part in civil defense field exercises
scheduled to begin on 12 August, Ukrainian Television
reported. The decision follows his threat to force tax
debtors to pay up by sending them  to a camp near Kyiv to
exercise in "manuring gardens" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10
August 1998). According to the television station,
Pustovoytenko has so far been able to extract only 80 million
hryvni ($38 million) in payments to the pension fund and 108
million hryvni for  the central budget. He had originally
aimed to collect $1 billion hryvni. JM

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHDOG CRITICIZES BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT. The
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights has sent
an open letter to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry to protest
violations of human rights in Belarus, AP and RFE/RL's
Belarusian Service reported on 11 August. In particular, the
letter criticizes the  judiciary's refusal to investigate
violence against journalists, the persecution of university
students for political activities, and unreasonably high
fines for participants in unsanctioned public protests.
"Instead of being governed by law, the country is being
governed by decrees," federation director Aaron Rose told
journalists in Minsk on 11 August, following a three-day
fact-finding trip to Belarus. JM

NO SPECIAL BENEFITS TO SOVIET-ERA VICTIMS IN BELARUS. A Minsk
court on 11 August rejected an appeal by the Minsk
Association of Victims of Soviet Repression to restore
additional  pension and other benefits to its members,
RFE/RL's Belarusian service reported. The benefits were
introduced in 1994 by the Supreme Soviet but were later
canceled by order of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Recipients were either former prisoners of Stalin-era camps
or their orphaned children. JM

ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS AMENDMENTS TO ALIENS LAW. The
government on 11 August adopted amendments to the aliens law
allowing the immigration quota to be exceeded in the case of
citizens of some countries, ETA reported. Currently, the
annual quota of foreigners who can move to Estonia and apply
for residence permits is 0.05 percent of the permanent
population of Estonia. Under the amended law, that quota will
no longer apply to citizens of EU countries, the U.S.,
Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland. Nor will it apply to the
spouses and children of Estonian citizens, in accordance with
international norms. National Affairs Minister Andra
Veidemann stressed that there has been no change in
government policy; rather, legislation has to be amended to
deal with problems that have arisen in daily practice. JC

RIGA EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY REMARKS.
Latvian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Maris Riekstins has
voiced concern over what he called the "unprecedented
disregard" for  the opinions of both Latvia and the
international community demonstrated in recent remarks by
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin, BNS
reported on 11 August. Riekstins also accused Moscow of the
"public distortion" of facts about  the conformity of Latvian
legislation with international norms and OSCE
recommendations. He was commenting on the remark by
Nesterushkin that Moscow is puzzled by the fact that some
countries regard recent amendments to the Latvian citizenship
law as virtually solving  "humanitarian problems" in Latvia.
Nesterushkin noted that despite recent "cosmetic measures,"
the problem of the Russian-speaking minority in Latvia
continues to cause tension. He added that "no real
improvement has been made." JC

POLISH PRIMATE URGES NO MORE CROSSES AT AUSCHWITZ. In a
letter to bishops published in the 11 August "Gazeta
Wyborcza," Polish Catholic Church Primate Jozef Glemp
appealed to Poles to stop erecting crosses outside the former
Auschwitz concentration camp. However,  another four-meter
cross was put up the same day at a gravel pit near the camp.
Chief Rabbi of Poland Menachem Joskowicz  criticized Glemp's
appeal as "no solution" to the Auschwitz crosses controversy,
Polish Radio reported. The previous day, the Simon Wiesenthal
Center in Los Angeles sent a letter to the Polish government
demanding that the crosses outside the Auschwitz site be
removed. The letter accuses "a group of Polish radicals" of
imposing "Christian symbols on Jewish suffering," PAP
reported. JM

GERMAN ACQUISITION OF POLISH NEWSPAPER SPARKS PROTEST. The
sale of the local newspaper "Gazeta Olsztynska" to Franz
Xavier Hirtreiter, the German owner of the "Passauer Neue
Presse," has provoked sharp protests from some Polish
politicians, Polish Radio reported on 11 August. The sale of
the newspaper, which sought to preserve Polish identity and
culture in the Warmia and Masurian Lake area (formerly in
Eastern Prussia, now in Olsztyn Province), has been dubbed
"an irony and a sale of symbols." Freedom Union parliamentary
deputy Halina Nowina-Konopka has appealed to Hirtreiter to
cancel the sale contract. Democratic Left Alliance Senator
Janusz Lorentz, former Olsztyn Province governor, has sent a
letter to Hirtreiter informing him that an initiative group
wanting to buy back the newspaper has been created in
Olsztyn. JM

CZECH ORGANIZATIONS PROTEST  DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN. In
an open letter to Prime Minister Milos Zeman on 11 August,
several non-governmental organizations representing women
protested the absence of any women in the country's new
government, CTK reported. Michaela Tominova-Marksova of the
Gender Studies Foundation said the letter described Zeman's
arguments that work in the government is too hard for women
as "unjustifiable and laughable." MS

CZECH AIR FORCE SHORT OF FUNDS. The Czech air force will not
be able to purchase new aircraft owing to a shortage of
funds, Defense Minister Vladimir Vetchy said in an interview
with  "Pravo" on 11 August. Vetchy said that "no matter what
party is in power, it cannot decide to purchase new fighters
at present."  He also said that for the time being, the
shortage of fighters in the air force can be partly solved by
ordering Czech-made L-159 subsonic aircraft. In other news,
Environment Minister Milos Kuzvart and Industry and Trade
Minister Miroslav Gregr on 10 August announced that an
independent commission will examine the continuation of the
construction work at the controversial Temelin nuclear plant.
The commission is to include both foreign and local experts.
MS

SLOVAK OPPOSITION LEADERS SEE ELECTION BOYCOTT AS POSSIBLE.
Slovak opposition leaders on 11 August warned that the
attempts by Vladimir Meciar's ruling Movement for a
Democratic (HZDS) Slovakia to bar the main opposition Slovak
Democratic Coalition (SDK) from running in the September
parliamentary elections could lead to a boycott of the vote
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 August 1998), Reuters reported.
SDK leader Mikulas Dzurinda said the move to appeal to the
Supreme Court over his party's registration is "simply an
attempt to destroy the democratic constitutional system in
Slovakia." The leader of the opposition Hungarian Coalition
Party, Bela Bugar, told private-owned Radio Twist that "a
call for civil disobedience" might be necessary. He added
that he "cannot rule out the possibility that opposition
parties will not take part in the elections or that they will
call on citizens to boycott the poll." MS

HUNGARIAN POLICE INVESTIGATE PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL
ALLEGATIONS. Police on 11 August began investigating
allegations, published the previous day in "Nepszabadsag,"
that members of the ruling  Federation of Young Democratic-
Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ) were involved in illegal
privatization practices (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 August
1998). A spokesman for the police said that "at first
glance," it appears that charges might be brought for either
forgery of documents, deception, or misappropriation of
documents, Hungarian media reported. The opposition Socialist
Party has called for both a parliamentary inquiry and a
criminal investigation. MS

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION ACCUSES GOVERNMENT OF UNDEMOCRATIC
PRACTICES. Former Socialist Prime Minister Gyula Horn on 11
August accused FIDESZ of attempting to take over control and
supervision of state property by  putting its own people in
charge of  structures overseeing state assets. He argued that
when the Socialists were in power, they left in office
leading civil servants appointed by the Democratic Forum
government before 1994, despite the "obvious failures" of
that government's policies. Horn pointed out that 10 out of
12 state secretaries have been replaced. He also denounced
the "undemocratic" concentration of power in the Prime
Minister's Office. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES NO ACTION ON KOSOVA. Fighting
continues in western Kosova, AP reported on 12 August.
Independent Belgrade Radio B-92 said that Serbian forces are
conducting a major assault on Gllogjan near the Decan-Gjakova
road. The previous day, the UN Security Council approved a
statement in which it appealed to both sides in the Kosova
dispute to seek a "final end to the violence" and a
"meaningful dialogue" aimed at a negotiated settlement. The
text criticized the "ongoing offensive by Belgrade's security
forces" but reaffirmed support for federal Yugoslavia's
"sovereignty and territorial integrity." The statement also
called for the return of all refugees to their homes. "The
Washington Post" wrote that the Council's failure to pass a
formal resolution on Kosova "underscored anew the degree to
which the United Nations has been forced into the role of a
relatively passive observer" in the Kosova crisis. PM

ARE WEAPONS THE PROBLEM? A spokesman for UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan said in New York on 11 August that Annan is
concerned that Belgrade "may be conducting a 'scorched-earth
policy' in some areas" of Kosova. The spokesman added that
Annan is also worried by "the continuing infiltration from
outside...Yugoslavia of weapons and fighting men." The
Security Council statement expressed similar concern. Russian
Deputy Ambassador to  the UN Yurii Fedotov stressed that
Moscow will not support any tough resolution on Kosova unless
the international community first finds a way to monitor the
flow of arms into the province. He told AP that "preventing
the flow of arms would help resolve the crisis." Fedotov also
noted that Milosevic is willing to negotiate but that the
Kosovars have yet to agree on the composition of their
delegation for any future talks. PM

SERBIA EXPELS GERMAN JOURNALIST. The Serbian authorities have
declared the veteran Balkan correspondent Erich Rathfelder
persona non grata and ordered him to leave the country, the
German satellite broadcaster NTV reported on 12 August.
Rathfelder wrote in the Berlin daily "taz" and in Vienna's
"Die Presse" on 5 August that members of the Serbian forces
in Kosova buried hundreds of ethnic Albanian civilians in
mass graves in Rahovec. EU monitors were subsequently unable
to confirm that report. Rathfelder and his editors stand by
their story and have called for international forensics
experts to investigate (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report," 12 August
1998). Rathfelder is the author of several books on the
former Yugoslavia, including a recent one on the war in
Bosnia. PM

MONTENEGRO REFUSES TO SEND REINFORCEMENTS. An unnamed advisor
to the Montenegrin government told London's "The Guardian" of
12 August that the government turned down a request by
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic the previous week to
send reinforcements for the paramilitary police in Kosova.
The adviser told the newspaper that "Milosevic doesn't
understand that you cannot win a war if you commit war
crimes. You simply create new soldiers, who join the opposing
side to avenge their families." Another unidentified official
in Podgorica said that the military authorities have
respected Montenegro's wish that Montenegrin conscripts not
be sent to Kosova. He added that the generals realize that
young Montenegrins "do not care" whether Kosova remains part
of Serbia. Also in Montenegro, an Austrian refugee relief
worker told Austrian Radio that Montenegrins increasingly
regard themselves as "Montenegrins and not as a sub-group of
Serbs" as a result of Milosevic's policies in Bosnia and
Kosova. PM

CROATIA TURNS DOWN MONTENEGRIN AID OFFER. A spokesman for the
Croatian government told "Slobodna Dalmacija" of 12 August
that the Dubrovnik region does not want the aid offered by
the Montenegrin border town of Herceg Novi in response to the
recent wave of fires that has swept much of Dalmatia. The
spokesman stressed that Croatia has no need of assistance
from those "who killed our children" during the 1991 war and
whose unexploded shells continue to cause injury. In
Dubrovnik, another government spokesman said that the
authorities have registered some 155 fires in Dalmatia since
5 August, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

KARADZIC PARTY TO SIT OUT CAMPAIGN. Dragan Kalinic, who heads
the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) loyal to Radovan Karadzic,
said in Banja Luka on 11 August that his party has stopped
campaign activities for the 12-13 September Bosnian general
elections. Kalinic charged that the SDS has long been the
object of a "witch hunt" led by the government of Republika
Srpska President Biljana Plavsic and Prime Minister Milorad
Dodik. Kalinic added that his party's candidates feel that
their security is threatened in the wake of the recent
killing of pro-Plavsic police official Srdjan Knezevic (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 1998). Pro-Plavsic Interior
Minister Milovan Stankovic subsequently suggested that
Momcilo Krajisnik, who is a leading SDS member and the
Serbian member of the Bosnian joint  presidency, ordered
Knezevic's assassination. Krajisnik called the charge a
"filthy lie and Goebbels-type propaganda," "Nasa Borba"
reported on 12 August. PM

ALBANIA, MACEDONIA, WORLD BANK TO PROTECT LAKE OHRID. The
ambassadors to the U.S. of Albania and Macedonia met with
World Bank representatives on 10 August in Washington and
signed an agreement to protect Lake Ohrid. The agreement
seeks to develop joint management of the region around the
lake and protect the nearby natural springs and the region's
wild-life, ATSH news agency reported. FS

CONTROVERSY OVER ALBANIAN SECRET SERVICE LAW. Namik Dokle,
the deputy speaker of the parliament, told "Gazeta Shqiptare"
of 11 August that he opposes the recent draft law regulating
the National Information Service. He said the bill  bans the
service from giving any information to government ministers
or parliamentary deputies without the prior approval of the
parliamentary speaker and the prime minister. Dokle added
that the draft also increases the prime minister's authority
over the secret service at the expense of the president.
"Gazeta Shqiptare," however, pointed out that most Socialist
Party legislators seek early passage of the bill on the
grounds that Islamic fundamentalists have recently stepped up
their activities. Spokesmen for the opposition Democratic
Party have criticized the draft, arguing that it undermines
parliamentary control over  the service and allows the
service to investigate politicians. FS

ALBANIAN CULTURE MINISTRY ACCUSES MOVIE DISTRIBUTOR OF THEFT.
Culture Ministry official Blendi Gonxhe has accused Genc
Ruzhdi, director of the Alba-Film Distribution company, of
theft.  Gonxhe told the ATSH news agency on 11 August that
since 1991, Ruzhdi has sold hundreds of films, documentaries,
and animated cartoons to private television companies at
prices well below their value. Gonxhe added that an
unspecified number of "video tapes, [movies, and] pieces of
electronic equipment are missing" from Alba-Film's archives.
And he noted that Ruzhdi recently prepared to sell
"truckloads of movies at low prices." FS

NEW TENSIONS IN ROMANIAN COALITION. The chairman of the
Senate's Agriculture Commission, Trita Fanita of the
Democratic Party, told journalists on 11 August that all
senior officials at the Ministry of Agriculture should resign
for "lack of professionalism and interest" in dealing with
aftermath of  the drought  in Romania this year. Incumbent
Agriculture Minister Dinu  Gavrilescu is a member of the
National Peasant Party Christian Democratic, the strongest
member of the ruling coalition, of  which the Democrats are
also a partner. Also on 11 August, Viorel Catarama, chairman
of the Senate's Economic Commission and deputy chairman of
the coalition member National Liberal Party, said that both
he and former Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, who heads the
Senate's Privatization Commission, backed Finance Minister
Daniel Daianu's position opposing the extension of state
guarantees for the purchase of the 96 helicopters in the
envisaged deal with  Bell Helicopters Textron. MS

TRANSDNIESTRIANS WANT TO JOIN RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION. According
to the results of a non-binding referendum on joining the
Russia-Belarus union,  published in Tiraspol on 11 August, 67
percent of the population of the breakaway Transdniester
region support the initiative. The referendum was called at
the initiative of the United Soviet of Work Collectives and
took place between April and June. The deadline for casting
votes was repeatedly extended because of low participation.
The organizers did not say what the final turnout was. The
results are to be sent to the union's Executive Committee,
which will respond to the results of the initiative by year's
end, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 11 August. MS

BULGARIAN CABINET AMENDS PRIVATIZATION LAW. According to an
amendment to the privatization law approved by the government
on 10 August, debts of enterprises may be reduced or written
off. This, however, can only be done with the prior consent
of the government and only in those cases where there is
evidence that the debt will obstruct the privatization of the
enterprise, BTA reported.  The state will also assume
responsibility for environmental damage caused by the
enterprises that are privatized. MS

END NOTE

UKRAINIANS SUPPORT BOTH UKRAINIAN AND RUSSIAN LANGUAGES

by Stefan Korshak and Vitaly Sych

	Most Ukrainians would like to keep Ukrainian as the sole
language for government use, but an even larger percentage
would like to give the Russian language some official status,
according to a recent Ukrainian Surveys & Market
Research/Kyiv Post poll.
	The survey also confirmed Ukraine's east-west linguistic
divide: respondents from the west are more likely to favor
the Ukrainian language, while respondents from the east and
south are more likely to support Russian.
	But the poll brought some surprises. Most notably, the
results show that the younger the person, the more likely he
or she is to favor the Russian language.
	Comparisons with the Soviet era are impossible, as
comparable surveys were not taken. But the results suggest
that the current policy of conducting all public education in
the Ukrainian language has so far failed to halt a long-term
trend toward linguistic Russification in Ukraine.
	The primary language in western provinces and in some
rural areas, Ukrainian was confirmed in the 1996 constitution
as the sole "state language." This means that all government
documents, public education, and commercial contracts must be
in the Ukrainian language, although such regulations are less
likely to be enforced in Russian-speaking regions.
	Of the 1,000 people polled throughout Ukraine, more than
70 percent said they favor giving Russian some kind of
official status, but almost 60 percent were against making
Russian a state language.
	The results are not a mandate for radical change.
Slightly more than 30 percent favored keeping Ukrainian as
the sole state language and at the same time giving Russian
legal status in the commercial sphere only. The status quo
was favored by 24.2 percent. But 36 percent favored making
Russian a second state language. Only 4.6 percent said they
would like to see Russian become the sole state language,
while 4.1 percent approved of "completely banning the Russian
language from Ukraine."
	In the east and south, resistance to current policy is
strong: solid majorities there favored putting Russian on an
equal legal footing with Ukrainian, while about a quarter of
respondents preferred merely recognizing Russian in the
commercial sphere. And the south was also the most pro-
Russian: more people there favored making Russian the sole
state language (8 percent) than favored the status quo (6.2
percent).
	Likewise, anti-Russian sentiment was strong in the west.
Less than a  third (29 percent) in that area favored
recognizing Russian in any way, while more than half (54.7
percent) favored the status quo and 16.1 percent favored
banning Russian.
	The capital Kyiv differed from the north as a whole. In
both the city and the region, nearly half of the respondents
were in favor of recognizing Russian in the commercial
sphere. In the region, 25 percent favored the status quo and
22.6 percent favored making Russian a state language, while
in Kyiv 37.1 percent favored the status quo and only 12.7
percent favored making Russian a state language.
	Ukraine's handling of ethnic and language issues has
been a relative success. Observers have long predicted
growing ethnic tension between Ukrainian nationalists in the
west and ethnic Russians in the east and Crimea. Ukrainians
appear to be fairly comfortable with not one, but two
functional national languages.
	The survey confirmed that despite its relegation to non-
official status since the declaration of Ukrainian
independence in 1991, Russian remains the primary spoken
language in Ukraine. The number of respondents who said they
spoke Russian at home outnumbered those who said they spoke
Ukrainian at home by a ratio of 3:2.
	Nationwide, almost half of respondents (45.6 percent)
said they speak Russian at home, 29.8 percent said they speak
Ukrainian, and 23.5 percent said they speak both languages.
The high number of bilingual households may be partly
explained by the use of mixed Ukrainian-Russian dialects.
	Younger people are considerably more likely to speak
Russian. In the 30-39, 40-49, and 50-and-over age groups, 41
percent said they speak Russian at home, while 53 percent of
people in their twenties and 57 percent of people aged 15 to
19 said they spoke Russian.
	People in their thirties were most likely to speak
Ukrainian, with 36 percent saying they speak it at home. That
figure fell to 29 percent among people aged 50 and over and
to 24 percent among people aged 15 to 19.
	Younger people are also more likely to support making
Russian an official language: 46.4 percent of teenagers
favored such a move, 41.4 percent of those in their twenties,
40.1 percent of people in their thirties, 40.2 percent of
people in their forties, and just 37.3 percent of people aged
50 and over.

The authors are Kyiv-based RFE/RL correspondents.

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                     All rights reserved.
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