One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try. - Sophocles
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 159 Part II, 19 August 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 159 Part II, 19 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 CENTRAL BANK RAISES INTEREST RATE TO STABILIZE
HRYVNYA

* LATVIAN PARTY CLAIMS SUCCESS IN REFERENDUM SIGNATURE
CAMPAIGN

* KOSOVARS TELL SERBS TO 'STOP PROPAGANDA GAME'

End Note: A COUP THAT SHOOK THE WORLD
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANK RAISES INTEREST RATE TO STABILIZE
HRYVNYA. The Ukrainian National Bank has raised its Lombard
rate to 92 percent annually from 82 percent, AP reported on
18 August. The step follows financial turmoil in Russia and
aims at maintaining the stability of the national currency,
the hryvnya. "It is rather a psychological form of reaction
to the market's financial situation," National Bank Chairman
Viktor Yushchenko commented. At the same time, the bank left
the discount rate unchanged at 82 percent from early July.
Ukrainian financial experts are concerned that the dramatic
plunge of the Russian ruble may also undermine the hryvnya,
which fell significantly on 17 August (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 18 August 1998). JM

BELARUS TO ALLOW WESTERN DIPLOMATS INTO DRAZDY AGAIN? A
source in the Belarusian Foreign Ministry told ITAR-TASS on
18 August that once repairs to its utility systems have been
completed, the Drazdy residential compound may be divided
into two, one part for President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and
the other for diplomatic missions. According to the source,
authorities are now determining the border of Lukashenka's
residence at Drazdy, and it is possible that a part of the
compound will not be included in the "security zone of the
head of state's residence." JM

ESTONIAN-RUSSIAN BORDER TALKS REMAIN STALLED. Estonian and
Russian delegations met in Moscow on 18 August to discuss
signing a border agreement, but it appears unlikely that the
current deadlock over the issue is about to be broken, ETA
reported. The talks are scheduled to continue on 19 August
to discuss further meetings, mostly of experts. According to
an Estonian Foreign Ministry statement, there is "no
information" about a possible date for signing the
agreement. JC

LATVIAN PARTY CLAIMS SUCCESS IN REFERENDUM SIGNATURE
CAMPAIGN... The Fatherland and Freedom party claims that
enough signatures have been collected to hold a referendum
on amendments to the country's citizenship law, BNS reported
on 18 August. The deadline for signing the petition for a
referendum was 18 August. To force a referendum, 10 percent
of the electorate--some 133,000 people--must back the
initiative. A spokesman for the Fatherland and Freedom
party, which was behind the initiative, told Reuters that
"unofficial estimates on 17 August, one day before [the]
deadline, allowed us to put the figure at around 129,000
[signatures] and with some 57,000 gathered [on 18 August] in
Riga alone it seems we are past the line." JC

...WHILE FIRST OFFICIAL RESULTS NOT EXPECTED TILL NEXT WEEK.
Also on 18 August, a representative of the Central Electoral
Commission said on Latvian Television that it seems the
necessary number of signatures may have been collected,
RFE/RL's Latvian Service reported. But the commission says
that it will demand precise figures for the number of
eligible voters at the last general elections in order to
determine the exact number of signatures needed. The
commission is expected to release preliminary figures for
the signature campaign on 24 August. JC

ADAMKUS, BRAZAUSKAS DISCUSS LITHUANIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS.
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus has met with his
predecessor, Algirdas Brazauskas, to discuss problems in
Lithuanian-Jewish relations, BNS reported on 18 August,
citing the Lithuanian daily "Respublika." The meeting
reportedly took part at Brazauskas's initiative the previous
day, and the two men agreed not to disclose the details of
their conversation. Lithuania has come under criticism by
Israel and international Jewish organizations for dragging
its feet over bringing to justice Lithuanian citizens
suspected of crimes against humanity during World War II.
Also on 18 August, a U.S. federal judge stripped Adolphas
Millinavicius of his citizenship, citing his membership in
the Lithuanian security police in 1941 and his involvement
in anti-Jewish actions. Millinavicius returned to Vilnius
after the Justice Department started proceedings to revoke
his citizenship in December 1996. JC

POLISH POLICE TO ACT 'MORE ENERGETICALLY' AGAINST PROTESTING
FARMERS. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek has announced that the
police will react "more energetically" to road blockades by
farmers who are protesting grain imports, Polish Radio
reported on 18 August. "Blocking roads is an action
absolutely contrary to the law, and appropriate decisions
that will put an end to actions of this kind have already
been taken," he commented. Buzek said grain imports to
Poland have decreased by some 400 percent in the last two
weeks. Buzek pledged that if those imports increase, he will
consider introducing a 76 percent customs tariff. He added
that the current long lines outside grain procurement
centers, which have sparked more farmers' protests, are due
to the attractive prices offered by the Agricultural Market
Agency. JM

POLISH GOVERNMENT TO ASSUME CONTROL OVER AUSCHWITZ CROSS
SITE. Premier Buzek has said that the government this week
will assume legal control over a field next to the former
Auschwitz death camp in a bid to end the controversy over
crosses set up there by radical Catholic groups, Polish
Radio reported on 18 August. The government will annul a 30-
year lease on the land held by the Association of War
Victims, a group that has links to the protesters who have
erected crosses in defiance of Catholic bishops and Jewish
organizations. Government spokesman Jaroslaw Sellin said the
association violated the lease contract by disobeying the
Roman Catholic Church. Meanwhile, Poland's intelligence
service--the State Protection Office--has launched an
investigation into the Auschwitz crosses controversy. The
daily "Zycie" suggested last week that the row over the
crosses may be a political provocation staged by a
communist-era secret service informer. JM

HAVEL MOVED OUT OF INTENSIVE CARE UNIT. Czech President
Vaclav Havel has been moved to an ordinary hospital room
after spending more than three weeks in intensive care
following surgery to remove a colostomy, CTK reported on 18
August. His personal physician, Ilja Kotik, told the agency
that Havel's recovery is "progressing well" but that he is
still using a breathing machine to strengthen his lungs. In
other news, the Chamber of Deputies on 18 August postponed
for the next day the vote of confidence in Milos Zeman's
cabinet because of the long list of speakers. Former Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus said the government's program is full
of "propaganda, alibis, and [empty] phrases." But he added
that his Civic Democratic Party "will allow the Social
Democrats to govern, despite their policies, not because of
them." MS

HEAD OF SLOVAK PRIVATE TV STATION OUSTED... Pavol Rusko,
director-general and co-owner of Markiza TV, Slovakia's
largest private television station, says that "political
motivations" were behind his ouster on 18 August, "38 days
before the elections." Sylvia Volzova, a Slovak
businesswoman residing in Germany who is the other co-owner
of Markiza TV, announced that as a result of a court order,
her company has become the new majority share owner of
Markiza. Later the same day, private security guards barred
Rusko from entering the station's headquarters, RFE/RL's
Bratislava bureau reported. Markiza TV has a reputation of
being critical of Premier Vladimir Meciar and his Movement
for a Democratic Slovakia. Also on 18 August, the government
approved extending an invitation to OSCE observers to
monitor the 25-26 September parliamentary elections. MS

...WHILE HUNGARIAN-LANGUAGE PROGRAMS ON SLOVAK TV HALTED.
The Bratislava Hungarian-language daily "Uj Szo" reported on
18 August that Hungarian-language programming on Slovak
state television has been halted, effective immediately. An
editor of the program said that management had explained the
move by charging that the one-hour weekly program did not
meet the expectation that half of its coverage be devoted to
the Slovak government and the parliament. Management
announced that the broadcast will be replaced by an "all-
nationality program in which Croats, Gypsies, Poles, Serbs,
Ukrainians, and Hungarians will be allotted 10 minutes
each," Hungarian media reported. MS

HUNGARY'S TORGYAN STILL OPPOSED TO LAND OWNERSHIP BY
FOREIGNERS. Agriculture and Regional Development Minister
Joszef Torgyan on 18 August said there is "no question" of
changing his Independent Smallholders' Party's position on
the ownership of land by foreigners, adding that present
restrictions on land purchasing will not be lifted. He also
announced that sanctions will be imposed on landowners who
lease out land to foreign farmers by exploiting legal
loopholes and on those who have sold land illegally,
Hungarian media reported. In other news, Gabor Bencsik
resigned his position on the governing board of the
Journalists' Association after TV2 filmed him selling
videocassettes that denied the Holocaust took place. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVARS TELL SERBS TO 'STOP PROPAGANDA GAME.' Fehmi Agani,
who heads shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova's
negotiating team, wrote chief Serbian negotiator Ratko
Markovic in Prishtina on 18 August that the Kosovars will
not take part in talks until the Serbian offensive stops. "I
have pointed out the necessity that violence stop against
the [Kosovar] civilian population and that the police
repression" is halted, Agani wrote. "If you have nothing to
say about this, maybe it would be beneficial to stop this
game with invitations to meet, apparently timed to serve
propaganda." U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill,
who is Washington's chief negotiator in the Kosova crisis,
continued his shuttle diplomacy between Serbian and Kosovar
politicians, saying that he will "stay at it...until we
succeed." On a visit to Zagreb, Yugoslav Foreign Minister
Zivadin Jovanovic, argued that "dialogue, and not violence
and terrorism, is the only way to solve the problem." PM

REFUGEES APPEAL FOR ESCAPE CORRIDOR. Reuters on 18 August
reported from western Kosova near the Albanian border that
Serbian forces have cut at least 10,000 ethnic Albanians off
from any possible escape route and that the refugees want a
safe corridor to enable them to flee to Montenegro or
Albania (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 August 1998). "Menaced by
random shelling, suffering increasingly from malnutrition
and vulnerable to disease for lack of medicine, the ethnic
Albanian refugees, mostly women and children, are desperate
for an escape route," the news agency wrote. "We're living
like beasts here. We need a humanitarian corridor out of
here because all routes now are blocked by police who would
kill us," one man told Reuters. Roughly 20,000 people have
fled dozens of villages bombarded and possibly overrun by
Serbian troops in their thrust eastward from the main road
between Peja and Decan. PM

KOSOVAR ANGER WITH WEST GROWS. London's "The Guardian"
reported from Prishtina on 19 August that "the ethnic
Albanian leadership--its politicians, journalists, and human
rights workers--have never been so angry and frustrated with
the West's failure to protect civilians from military
onslaughts from the Serbs." The daily added that Albanians
also resent the "racist-sounding implication" that their
personal feuds and failure to agree are "typically Balkan,"
as some foreign observers have suggested. Veton Surroi, who
is Kosova's leading journalist, added that the West is using
Russian objections to NATO intervention in Kosova as an
excuse not to intervene militarily. "No one has seriously
asked the Russians to support intervention. If they see
everyone else means business, they may not say no. You can
always have trade-offs. Kosova is not a high priority for
them," Surroi concluded. PM

ALBANIA PARTIALLY EVACUATES BORDER REGION. Albanian
authorities have begun evacuating children and elderly
persons from villages near the border with Kosova after
three Serb shells hit about 1,000 meters inside Albanian
territory on 18 August, an unidentified Interior Ministry
official told AP. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Paskal Milo
told visiting Luxembourg Interior Minister Alex Bodry that
NATO intervention on the ground is needed to stop the
fighting in Kosova, ATSH news agency reported. Milo added
that "there are no clear prospects for the start of...talks
[between Belgrade and Prishtina] because of the ethnic
cleansing policy of [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic
and the Serbian military offensive." FS

YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES SHUT RADIO STATION. The Association of
Independent Electronic Media said in a statement in Belgrade
on 18 August that officials of the Yugoslav
Telecommunications Ministry and two policemen told the staff
of independent City Radio in Nis to cease broadcasting
immediately. The staff complied and the visitors removed
some broadcasting equipment. The Ministry recently informed
the station that its application for a frequency license is
not in order, but officials refused to tell the journalists'
lawyers exactly what the problem with the application is. PM

CROATIA, YUGOSLAVIA FAIL TO AGREE ON PREVLAKA. Jovanovic and
his Croatian host Mate Granic signed agreements in Zagreb on
18 August dealing with trade and investment and with the
exchange of some 41 remaining prisoners from the 1991 war.
The two foreign ministers were unable to reach a deal,
however, on the future of Croatia's Prevlaka peninsula,
which controls access to Kotor Bay, Yugoslavia's only deep
water naval base. Croatia has offered to demilitarize the
peninsula, but Yugoslavia wants to negotiate about who will
ultimately control it once UN peacekeepers leave. Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman has indicated that he would be
willing to exchange Prevlaka for Bosnian Serb territory near
Dubrovnik, but public opinion is decidedly opposed to such a
move. PM

WESTENDORP EXPECTS NATIONALIST ELECTION VICTORY. Carlos
Westendorp, who is the international community's chief
representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 18 August that
he expects the nationalist parties among the Serbs, Muslims,
and Croats to win the most votes in each of their respective
communities in the general elections slated for 12-13
September. He added, however, that he predicts that more
opposition legislators will be elected in each of the three
communities than was the case in the last elections. PM

U.S. MARINES STEP UP SECURITY AT TIRANA EMBASSY. Fifty U.S.
marines and navy commandos sent to Albania for a NATO
exercise have begun guarding the embassy's residential area
in Tirana, President Bill Clinton wrote in a letter to
Congress on 18 August. Clinton said that the U.S.
authorities have received "credible information of a
possible attack" on the Tirana embassy "similar to the
attacks against [the U.S.] missions" in Kenya and Tanzania
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August 1998). He did not
elaborate about the threat but noted that U.S. military
forces will continue to boost security at the embassy "until
it is determined that the additional security support is
unnecessary." Six marines normally guard the embassy. In
Washington, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon told AP on 18
August that the U.S. still maintains "robust participation"
in the maneuvers, with 650 American soldiers involved either
on ships or on shore. FS

ALBANIA TIGHTENS BORDER CONTROLS. Milo told "Koha Jone" of
18 August that Albanian authorities are working to tighten
controls on foreigners and bolster security around
embassies. Milo made the pledges after the U.S. government
evacuated non-essential embassy staff on 16 August amid
fears of a possible terrorist attack. Milo blamed the
government of former President Sali Berisha for enabling "a
wave of terrorists" to enter Albania in recent years. A
spokesman for Berisha's Democratic Party accused the current
government of mishandling security and damaging relations
with the U.S. FS

ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER WANTS TO REDUCE BUDGET. Daniel
Daianu intends to propose cutting the current budget by some
8 trillion lei (almost $1 billion), or 2 percent of the
country's GDP, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 18
August. Daianu said this cut is "drastic but not
surprising," given that the 1998 budget deficit will likely
be "way above the predicted 3.7 percent of GDP and might
reach 5.5-6 percent." He said that the original forecast had
been "overambitious" and that this year's deficit will be
"at least 4 percent" of GDP. He also said inflation will
probably be below the forecast of 46 percent. MS

MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS U.S. OFFICIALS. Nicolae
Tabacaru, on a four-day visit to the U.S., told an RFE/RL
correspondent in Washington on 18 August that during his
discussions with Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre one
day earlier, it was agreed to establish a joint committee
for improving military cooperation between the two
countries. Agreement was also reached to establish a special
program for the training of Moldovan soldiers by the U.S.
military in both Moldova and the U.S. Tabacaru said he
discussed with U.S. State Department officials the continued
presence of Russian troops on Moldovan territory and that
the U.S. promised to solve this issue as quickly as
possible. MS

BULGARIAN SOCIALIST NEWSPAPER CHANGES MASTHEAD. "Duma," the
daily of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, will drop
from its masthead the reference to its party affiliation and
designate itself simply "the Left newspaper," editor in
chief Stefan Prodev told BTA on 17 August. Prodev said the
decision was taken with the knowledge and approval of the
Socialist party's Supreme Council. He added that the step is
aimed at increasing the circulation of the daily. In other
news, the government on 17 August decided that average wages
in the state sector will increase by 5 percent as of 1
September. MS

BULGARIANS DIVIDED OVER IMPLICATIONS OF RUBLE DEVALUATION.
President Petar Stoyanov, who will pay a visit to Russia on
27-29 August, has expressed "extreme concern" over the
devaluation of the ruble, saying the step might affect his
visit and that the devaluation might "have ramifications in
areas beyond Europe." But Bulgarian National Bank Governor
Svetoslav Gavriiski said on state television that he does
not expect the devaluation to have any negative impact on
Bulgaria, BTA reported on 18 August.

END NOTE

A COUP THAT SHOOK THE WORLD

by Paul Goble

	Seven years ago, a coup in Moscow set off a series of
shock waves that continue to reverberate throughout the
Russian Federation, its neighbors, and the world at large.
	When the coup began on 19 August 1991, the Soviet
Union still existed, Mikhail Gorbachev was its president,
and the post-Cold War international system appeared to be in
order. When it ended three days later, each had been called
into question.
	But despite the dramatic changes that followed, the
coup attempt itself--why it was organized, why it almost
succeeded, and why it ultimately failed--was in fact a
manifestation of three underlying features of political life
that continue to resonate there.
	First, the August 1991 coup was staged and opposed by
two relatively small groups of people, each of which was
convinced that the country faced a crisis and that its
future depended entirely on the outcome of that crisis. The
Emergency Committee, as events quickly showed, had very few
people behind it. But despite the heroism of the defenders
of the Russian White House, the number of people involved
was also small. Both groups were united in a sense that the
country would be doomed if the other won and by an
understanding that the number of people actually involved in
the political struggle was and would remain small.
	Most people in the Soviet government and in the
country at large did not take either side. Instead, they
adopted a wait-and-see attitude and probably would have been
willing to support whoever came out on top. That absence of
involvement and sense that the country will develop by
crisis rather than organically continues to characterize
political life across the post-Soviet space.
	Second, the coup bid almost succeeded and inevitably
failed because individual loyalties to particular leaders
proved to be greater than any attachment to political
institutions. The Emergency Committee that launched the
abortive coup thought it could count on the deference of the
population to anyone claiming to speak in the name of the
government. And its members also believed they could reckon
with the obedience of the subordinates the members of the
committee nominally led.
	While members of the committee may have been correct
in their first assumption, they were clearly wrong on the
second. Not only had the bonds of obedience already snapped,
but their own all-too-obvious disobedience further severed
the ties on which they had counted.
	But those who opposed the coup, including Russian
leader Boris Yeltsin, also adopted a personalist approach.
On the one hand, Yeltsin sought to portray himself as a
hero-leader rather than an elected representative. And on
the other, his demand that Soviet President Mikhail
Gorbachev be returned to Moscow clearly had little to do
with his respect for the office of the presidency.
	This absence of support for institutions independent
of the people who occupy them continues to dominate
political life in the region. Indeed, it remains one of the
major reasons why the people in so many post-Soviet states
have found it difficult to make the transition to democracy,
a system that insists that institutions are more important
than the individuals who occupy them.
	Third, the coup bid inevitably failed not so much
because of the actions of those who opposed it but because
the collapse of the coup and the ensuing developments served
the interests of those who many supposed would be its most
interested defenders.
	By mid-1991, many officials, both in Russia and other
republics, on whom those behind the coup thought they could
count had already decided they could profit more from
reforms than from a return to the past. Such officials thus
did not support the coup. But even though most did not
oppose it either, they rapidly changed their political
affiliations in its aftermath in order to continue to
benefit from the new circumstances.
	And that pattern, one not typically revolutionary, has
had some very serious consequences for political life in the
post-Soviet states. It has meant that there has not been a
clean break with the past in terms of those in power or in
the ways they do business.
	It has increased cynicism both about the declarations
of these now ex-communists leaders and about the ideals--
democracy and free markets, for example -- that they claim
to support. And it has left many in these countries with the
sense that once again the elite has found a way to take care
of itself at their expense, an attitude that may produce a
revolution but is certainly not the product of one.
	On the seventh anniversary of the abortive coup,
Russia and many of its neighbors are developing in ways that
reflect both the shock waves of that event and the
continuities it revealed--a collection of new bottles that
in many cases contain old wine.

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