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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 155, Part II, 13 August 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 155, Part II, 13 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

* UKRAINIAN TAX DEBTORS IN TENT CAMP

* CZECH GOVERNMENT DENIES INTERFERENCE IN GERMAN ELECTIONS

* SERBS STEP UP 'MASSIVE ASSAULT'

* End Note: DEVELOPMENT OF UKRAINIAN NAVY HINDERED BY LACK OF FUNDS

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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

LUKASHENKA PLEDGES SUPPORT TO FORD IN BELARUS. Belarusian
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has pledged support and
assistance in expanding the production of Ford motor vehicles
in Belarus, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 August. During his
meeting with the heads of the Belarusian-U.S. joint venture
Ford Union, which was launched in 1997 in a Minsk suburb,
Lukashenka called Ford a "very solid investor and partner....
Since you...do not harm our people who work at this plant, we
will help you even more than before," ITAR-TASS quoted him as
saying. The Ford Union produces automobiles and mini-buses
primarily for the Russian and Belarusian market. JM

BELARUSIAN NEWSPAPER SUES GOVERNMENT FOR WARNING. The Higher
Economic Court on 12 August opened the case brought by the
Belarusian-language "Nasha Niva" newspaper against the State
Press Committee, Belapan and RFE/RL Belarusian Service
reported. "Nasha Niva" chief editor Syarhey Dubavets demands
that the committee revoke the warning it issued in May not to
use traditional Belarusian spelling, banned by Joseph
Stalin's regime in 1933 (see "End Note" in "RFE/RL Newsline,"
10 August 1998). Dubavets asked the court to set up an expert
linguistic commission to determine whether the newspaper
distorts the "generally accepted norms" of the Belarusian
language, as stated in the official warning. Judge Ina
Petukhova, who speaks no Belarusian, agreed to postpone the
court proceedings until 14 August. JM

UKRAINE REPAYS $450 MILLION TO JAPANESE FIRM. The Ukrainian
Finance Ministry has now repaid in full a $450 million loan
to the Japanese firm Nomura International, Ukrainian News and
dpa reported on 12 August. That move eases fears that Ukraine
is facing bankruptcy. According to Ukrainian News, the
Finance Ministry paid $406 million from the National Bank's
hard currency reserves, which amounted to some $1.5 billion
earlier this month. Short-term debts to be paid by Ukraine in
August total $1 billion. JM

UKRAINIAN TAX DEBTORS IN TENT CAMP. Continuing his unorthodox
campaign to collect taxes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August
1998), Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko has sent some
1,500 business executives to a tent camp at Pereyeslav
Khmelnytskyy, 50 kilometers outside Kyiv, AP reported on 12
August. Pustovoytenko said they will remain in the camp
watching films and listening to lectures on natural disasters
until they pay their overdue taxes. "I want all those
present, all the people of our state to understand that we
shall keep the process of tax and pension fund payments under
control," he commented. JM

KUCHMA AMNESTIES 25,000 PRISONERS. Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma has signed an amnesty law that will free some 25,000
prisoners, Interfax reported on 12 August. The amnesty
applies to convicts who have not committed grave crimes and
will include minors, prisoners who have children under 18 or
disabled children, and pregnant women. It will not extend to
those defined as "dangerous recidivists" by courts or who
received the death penalty commuted to a prison term. The law
will take effect on the day it is published and will be
carried out within three months. As of 1 July, there were
236,000 inmates in Ukraine's prisons. JM

LATVIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL RESIGNS... Janis Skrastins has
tendered his resignation, citing "political pressure" in the
run-up to the 3 October parliamentary elections and saying he
feels "simply physically broken," BNS reported on 12 August.
Skrastins, who has held the office of prosecutor-general
since September 1990, said that recent decisions by his
office are regularly being interpreted as benefiting one
political party and harming another. He told reporters that
the parliamentary committee investigating the loss of 3
million lats ($6 million) in the Latvenergo-Banka Baltija
deal is opposed to his resignation, as are Latvia's Way and
the opposition Democratic Party Saimnieks. But the
parliamentary groups of the Labor Party, the Union of
Christian Democrats, and the Green Party say they support
Skrastins's resignation. Skrastins's office has come under
criticism by members of the investigative committee for being
"too slow" to investigate the Latvenergo case. JC

...WHILE SOME CABINET MINISTERS URGE HIM TO STAY. Justice
Minister Dzintars Rasnacs told BNS and "Diena" on 12 August
that Skrastins's resignation is "a threat to democracy and
signals that representatives of legislative power have
intruded too deeply into the competence of the court."
Interior Minister Andrejs Krastins argued that attacks
against the prosecutor-general from members of the committee
investigating the Latvenergo deal "lacked competence and
stemmed from political ambitions." He added that he will meet
soon with Skrastins and seek to persuade him to stay in his
post. Parliamentary speaker Alfreds Cepanis is also to meet
with Skrastins on 13 August to discuss the reasons for his
resignation. Cepanis told BNS he will try to persuade
Skrastins to remain in office, as he considers his work to
have been successful. JC

POLAND PRINTS NEW ADMINISTRATIVE MAPS AMID PROTESTS. Poland has begun
printing maps based on the country's new
administrative division into 16 provinces, "Zycie Warszawy"
reported on 13 August. The government announced on 7 August
that Poland's middle administrative tier will be composed of
308 districts and 65 towns with the status of district. The
local elections to district and provincial councils will be
held on 11 October, along with the communal elections.
Meanwhile, some local communities are still opposing the new
administrative division. On 12 August, residents of Brzeziny,
Skierniewice Voivodship, blocked roads to demand that their
town be designated a district center. And the Czestochowa
municipal authorities have sent a letter to the Council of
Europe complaining that the city has been stripped of its
status as a provincial center. JM

CZECH GOVERNMENT DENIES INTERFERENCE IN GERMAN ELECTIONS.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl on 12 August accused Czech Premier
Milos Zeman of interfering in the German parliamentary
elections, dpa reported. Kohl told journalists that Zeman is
backing the opposition Social Democrats (SPD) because that
party, according to the news agency, takes a "weaker" stand
on the rights of the Sudeten Germans. He said this is
"totally unacceptable" and that "this type of interference by
a head of government in Europe...has never before taken
place." A Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman said on 12 August
that Kohl may have confused Zeman with somebody else in the
Czech government since the prime minister has made no comment
in support of the SPD. The Federal Press Office in Bonn
responded by quoting the Czech premier as telling Prima TV on
26 July that he firmly believes the SPD will win the
September elections and that his party has very good
relations with the SPD. MS

BUDAPEST PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE LAUNCHES FRAUD INVESTIGATION.
Following press allegations of fraud among members of the
ruling Federation of Young Democrats- Hungarian Civic Party
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 12 August 1998), Deputy
Budapest Prosecutor Gyorgy Agai on 12 August told Kossuth
Radio that an investigation has been launched. Agai said the
Company Registration Court has been asked to check the
legality of the companies involved in the scandal. He added
that if the court concludes those companies were registered
by using stolen documents, the people involved will be
charged with forgery. MS

SMALLHOLDERS WARN AGAINST 'CHANCELLOR-STYLE' RULE. The
parliamentary group of the junior coalition partner, the
Independent Smallholders' Party (FKGP), has warned against
"chancellor-style" rule, whereby important question are
decided by the premier alone. To avoid tensions in the
coalition, the premier must consult with coalition partners
before making important decisions, the FKGP says. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBS STEP UP 'MASSIVE ASSAULT.' Serbian forces took
Gllogjan, located near the Decan-Gjakova road, from the
Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) on 12 August. The Serbian
paramilitary police and Yugoslav army troops subjected Junik,
near the Albanian border, to what Austrian Radio the next day
called a "massive frontal assault" with artillery. The Kosova
shadow-state authorities in Prishtina appealed for the
establishment of a humanitarian aid corridor for the benefit
of the civilian population of the beleaguered village. "The
Guardian" wrote that Serbian forces set fire to forests along
the Albanian frontier and burned abandoned villages in the
central Kijeva area. Journalists subsequently "found dozens
of empty bottles of barbecue lighter fuel on the ground" in
the villages. The satellite broadcaster Euronews reported
that the Serbs have begun to use land mines in areas other
than along the Albanian border, which they mined several
weeks ago. PM

EU CONDEMNS ATTACK ON JUNIK. Following the launching of the
assault on Junik on 12 August, Austrian Foreign Minister
Wolfgang Schuessel, speaking in his capacity as current EU
chair, called on the Yugoslav authorities to stop the
violence, which, he said, could worsen an "already unbearable
humanitarian situation." Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic recently promised EU envoys that his forces would
not attack Junik, where some 1,000 UCK fighters and 1,000
civilians are trapped, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from
Prishtina on 12 August. In London, a spokesman for the
Kosovar shadow-state government told CNN that if the Western
powers do not intervene soon in Kosova "we will very shortly
see the whole region ablaze." In Prishtina, unnamed Western
diplomats told Reuters and Euronews that time is running out
for starting peace talks because winter is approaching and
many crops have either been destroyed or are in need of
harvesting. PM

BELGRADE REJECTS CRITICISM. The state-run Tanjug news agency
on 12 August slammed the UN Security Council's statement the
previous day, which said that the Serbs have used "excessive
force" in Kosova and conducted a "scorched-earth policy" (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August 1998). Tanjug wrote that the
statement "does not help at all to give an objective and true
picture" of the situation in Kosova. The news agency added
that the text ignores the role of the Kosovar leadership in
the conflict and does not mention that Serbian forces are
"forced to react to terrorist attacks and provocations."
Tanjug also accused Slovenia, which currently holds the
Security Council chair, of being "true to its anti-Yugoslav
and anti-Serbian policy." Elsewhere, the Foreign Ministry in
Belgrade "most energetically rejected" recent Albanian
charges that Yugoslav helicopters violated Albanian airspace,
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 11 August 1998). PM

JOURNALIST STICKS TO STORY OF MASS GRAVES. Erich Rathfelder,
who is a veteran Balkan correspondent for Berlin's "taz" and
Vienna's "Die Presse," told an RFE/RL correspondent in a
telephone interview on 12 August that he stands by his recent
report of mass graves of Kosovar civilians in Rahovec (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August 1998). He stressed that
international forensics experts should visit the area as soon
as possible. Rathfelder is in Croatia and has been barred by
the Serbian authorities from returning to Kosova. FS

DUTCH LAUNCH NEW INVESTIGATION INTO SREBRENICA. Frank de
Grave, who is the recently appointed Dutch defense minister,
announced in The Hague on 11 August that his Ministry will
investigate the role of Dutch UNPROFOR peacekeepers in the
fall of Srebrenica three years ago and the subsequent
massacre by Bosnian Serb troops of up to 8,000 Muslim males.
The announcement comes in response to repeated charges by
legislators and UNPROFOR veterans that the Defense Ministry
deliberately destroyed films and other evidence that
allegedly reveals that Dutch troops helped the Serbs round up
their victims. Some veterans also said that the Ministry
"systematically" sought to block any investigation into what
happened at Srebrenica and into the Ministry's role in any
subsequent cover-up, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung"
wrote on 13 August. PM

BOSNIAN SERBS SHUT DOWN NEWS AGENCY. Republika Srpska
Information Minister Rajko Vasic said in Banja Luka on 12
August that the government has ordered the closure of the
Pale-based Bosnian Serb news agency, SRNA. Vasic added that
the authorities made their decision because of SRNA's
"fabrications, tendentious reporting, and manipulating of the
speeches of top state officials." He also criticized SRNA's
"apparent imbalance" in the length of the reports about
officials loyal to the Banja Luka-based government and about
the government's hard-line opponents in Pale. SRNA was the
mouthpiece of the leadership headed by Radovan Karadzic
during the 1992-1995 war. PM

AFRICAN BOMBINGS LINKED TO ARREST OF FUNDAMENTALISTS IN
ALBANIA? The "International Herald Tribune" on 12 August
reported that U.S. investigators are looking into a possible
link between the recent embassy bombings in Tanzania and
Kenya and the earlier arrest in Albania of four Islamic
fundamentalists from Egypt, who may have been employees of
the wealthy Saudi expatriate Osama bin Laden. Albanian police
made the arrests in late June in close cooperation with the
CIA, according to the daily. Several Arabic newspapers wrote
before the bombings that the CIA took the suspects out of
Albania and subsequently turned them over to authorities in
Egypt. The "International Herald Tribune" also quotes
unidentified Western security experts as saying that Osama
bin Laden may have struck an alliance with the Egyptian-based
Jihad group, which had faxed a statement to news
organizations before the bombings threatening retaliation for
the four arrests. FS

ALBANIAN SECRET SERVICE CHIEF DENIES AFRICAN BOMBINGS LINK.
Secret service chief Fatos Klosi told "Koha Jone" of 12
August that he has no evidence that the embassy bombings in
east Africa are connected to the expulsion from Albania of
the four fundamentalists. Klosi admitted that some Islamic
fundamentalists are active in Albania but stressed that
Albania is "not a center of international terrorism." He
added that in recent years, Albania has been a "very
convenient place" for people fleeing prosecution in their own
countries. He added that Albania "is poor and ready to accept
assistance, and its borders are easy to cross." Meanwhile,
the governing Socialist Party has requested a special
parliamentary session to discuss the issue of Islamic
fundamentalism. FS

EUROPEAN TROIKA SHOWS SUPPORT FOR ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT. The
European Troika, which consists of representatives from the
European Parliament and from the parliamentary assemblies of
the Council of Europe and the OSCE, visited the northern
Albanian city of Bajram Curri on 12 August. Delegation leader
and Austrian senior diplomat Gerhard Jandl praised Albania's
Kosova policy and assured the Albanian government officials
of EU support, adding that the EU will keep up diplomatic
pressure on Belgrade. He stressed that Albania has improved
its internal security and made progress in its fight against
corruption and smuggling. The previous day, Jandl told
Albanian officials that the EU will promote cooperation with
Albania in trade and fishing, help attract foreign investment
in the country, and encourage high-ranking international
participation in a donors' conference slated for October,
ATSH reported. FS

ROMANIA, HUNGARY FAIL TO REACH AGREEMENT ON WHEAT TAX. Two
Hungarian officials on 12 August failed to reach an agreement
with their Romanian counterparts in Bucharest on the import
duties recently imposed on wheat and flour from Hungary (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 11 August 1998). Romania says the duties--
15-25 percent on wheat imports and 45 percent on flour--are
in line with Article 14 of the CEFTA agreements and will be
in force until 31 December 1998. Hungary argues that the
CEFTA agreements call for consultations before such measures
are imposed, a condition that Bucharest failed to meet. Both
sides agreed to continue negotiations at the next CEFTA
meeting of agricultural ministers in Prague on 24-25 August.
Mihaly Gyorgy of the Hungarian Ministry of Economy said it is
"premature" to discuss Hungarian countermeasures ahead of the
Prague talks, Romanian and Hungarian media reported. MS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DENIES KNOWLEDGE OF SRI FILE ON FORMER
MINISTER. The presidential office on 12 August denied
allegations earlier this week by a former employee of the
Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) that the presidential
office has received information about the SRI file of former
Health Minister Francisc Barany. Barany resigned after former
SRI official Constantin Alexa leaked to the press Barany's
pledge to act as a communist secret police informer in the
1950s. Alexa, who was dismissed for having acted unlawfully,
claimed in an interview with the daily "Cotidianul" on 10
August that Baranyi's SRI file shows him as having acted
against Romania's "national interest and security" after the
overthrow of the communist regime and of having had links to
Hungarian "separatists" in Transylvania and Hungarian
intelligence. Alexa says he passed on this information to his
superiors, who, he claims, must have forwarded it to the
presidential office. MS

PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE EXERCISE IN MOLDOVA. A Partnership for
Peace exercise began on 10 August at an airfield in Chisinau
and will last 10 days. Taking part in the exercise are U.S.
and Moldovan military medical corps, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau
reported. The participants are simulating an airlift of
civilians under natural disaster conditions. MS

TIRASPOL WANTS SHARE OF BULGARIAN NUCLEAR WASTE TRANSIT. The
separatist authorities in the Transdniester say they will not
allow the transit of Bulgarian nuclear waste from the
Kozloduy plant to Russia unless they receive a share of the
transit tax paid to Chisinau, Radio Bucharest reported on 12
August. In related news, the Moldovan government the same day
discussed a proposal to ask the Russian contingent stationed
in the Transdniester to safeguard the transit. MS

BULGARIAN RULING PARTY SLAMS 'NATIONAL SOCIALIST SLOGANS' AT
ZHIVKOV FUNERAL. The ruling Union of Democratic Forces (SDS)
on 11 August issued a statement criticizing the opposition
Bulgarian Socialist Party for the speeches at the rally
staged before of the funeral of former President Todor
Zhivkov on 10 August. The SDS said the speeches reflected
"communist nostalgia and rather explicit national socialist
slogans directed against Roma, Jews, and Turks." President
Petar Stoyanov had said on 10 August said the statements
against Roma and Jews at the rally were "overtly fascist." MS

DEVELOPMENT OF UKRAINIAN NAVY HINDERED BY LACK OF FUNDS

by Stefan Korshak

	On 1 August, the once mighty Black Sea Fleet, which was
founded 302 years ago, celebrated Russian Navy Day. With
overflights by helicopters and strike aircraft, a massive
procession of cruisers and frigates thundered out salutes for
guests assembled in Sevastopol, before heading out to sea for
high-speed maneuvers.
	The same day, Ukraine's fledgling navy celebrated its
second birthday. Undoubtedly, a naval tradition takes time to
develop. "But without any question, our main problem is
shortage of funding," Nikolai Savchenko, Ukraine Black Sea
Naval Forces spokesman, told RFE/RL. "The government simply
does not have the resources to support even a minimum of
operations."
	Which was why on Ukrainian Navy Day none of Ukraine's 44
major combat vessels budged from their berths. Its 10,000
uniformed personnel and 10,000 civilians mostly in shore-side
installations were paid in July on time, but June paychecks
remain outstanding. Aside from NATO-funded maneuvers, most
Ukrainian vessels have not moved from dock this year.
	"Jane's Navy International" said only a part of the
Ukrainian Navy--44 fighting ships, 80 auxiliary vessels, and
60 helicopters and airplanes--is battle-ready. But it also
said that even this is aimed more at showing the flag than
serving military purposes.
	The Ukrainian naval command deploys maritime aviation,
coastal rocket and artillery troops, marines, special assault
units, and logistic support troops. Most are at cadre
strength, with little more than personnel and rusting
equipment to contribute to national maritime combat-
readiness.
	Five hundred small vessels survive on the "patronage" of
chronically cash-strapped riverside and seaside
municipalities. Only two Ukrainian ships, the "Slavutych" and
the escort ship "Hetman Sahaidachny," have regularly sailed
the Black Sea this year. Although listed as combat-ready,
both are configured and crewed not to defend Ukraine's shores
but to show its blue-and-yellow banner abroad, especially
when Ukrainian participation is required in the NATO
Partnership for Peace exercises.
	Rear Admiral Mykhailo Yezhel, Ukrainian deputy defense
minister and navy commander, listed the single firing of a
cruise missile and the graduation of the country's first
batch of naval cadets as Ukraine's biggest naval achievements
this year. "We are establishing a strong foundation," he
said. "We are making our first steps.... Our mission is
control of our national shores and waters in economic terms."
He went on to explain that in practical terms, that means
"stopping smuggling...and illegal immigration.... We are
neither prepared nor preparing for war."
	Corvettes and smaller vessels predominate. By 2005, the
largest vessel in the fleet will be an anti-submarine
frigate. Kyiv also plans deployment of some form of coastal
submarine.
	But for that to happen, the Russian parliament has to
approve a recent Ukraine-Russia treaty finalizing the
division of the Black Sea Fleet. Signed with great fanfare
over a year ago, the agreement has since moldered.
	"One cannot say that the Russian side has been in a
hurry to implement the agreement," Savchenko said. "It seems
that the policy has been to let the status quo dictate
events." That has meant all the most powerful vessels like
guided missile cruisers and attack submarines remaining in
Russian possession.
	In a recently published book, "Anatomy of an Undeclared
War," Savchenko argues that Russian Black Sea Fleet officers
worked closely with Crimean nationalists and separatists over
the last five years to return the strategic Crimean peninsula
to Russian control and, at a minimum, keep the Black Sea
Fleet and Sevastopol Russian.
	Last year the Kyiv government replaced separatist local
Crimean officials with men supportive of Ukrainian control of
the region. But until the status of Sevastopol is settled and
the rent money from the Russian fleet begins entering
Ukrainian state coffers, the Ukrainian navy appears likely to
stay as it is: small and modest.
	"The government is in great part depending on rent money
from Sevastopol to resolve financing for the Ukrainian
fleet," Savchenko said. "And as long as the agreement hangs
in the air, our navy will have very little money with which
to operate."

The author is a frequent contributor to RFE/RL based in Kyiv.

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