Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man. - Leon Trotsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 161 Part II, 21 August 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 161 Part II, 21 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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SPECIAL REPORT: CZECHOSLOVAKIA IN 1968--AN INVASION
REMEMBERED
Thirty years ago today Soviet tanks crushed the Prague
Spring reform movement. This special report looks at the
invasion's history and impact.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/invasion1968/index.html

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Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK TO KEEP TIGHT REIN ON HRYVNYA

* CHIRAC SAYS INTERVENTION IN KOSOVA MAY BE NECESSARY

* RUGOVA SEEKS 'NO FLY ZONE'
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK TO KEEP TIGHT REIN ON HRYVNYA.
The Ukrainian National Bank has decided to keep the
hryvnya within the exchange rate corridor of 1.8-2.25 to
$1, which was set by the government in January 1998 for
the entire year. "We have decided to take several
measures to improve the trade balance so as to preserve
the corridor," a bank official told Ukrainian News on 20
August. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Television reported the
same day that the Ministry of Economy has prepared a
package of measures to soften the impact of the Russian
ruble's decline on the Ukrainian economy. Deputy Economy
Minister Leonid Minin told journalists that "there are
no reasons for panic in Ukraine." JM

BELARUSIAN MAIN BANKER SAYS BELARUS NOT HIT BY RUSSIAN
CRISIS. Belarusian National Bank Chairman Pyotr
Prakapovich said on national television on 19 August
that Russia's financial crisis has not "directly"
affected Belarus's banking system. Prakapovich added
that in anticipation of a crisis in Russia, his bank
recommended Belarusian commercial banks to sharply
reduce transactions with Russian securities. But he
voiced concern about Belarusian exports to Russia if the
Russian crisis provokes an economic decline. Prakapovich
stressed that the National Bank intends to fulfill its
pledge several months ago to introduce a single exchange
rate of the Belarusian ruble in non-cash transactions by
year's end. JM

UN CALLS ON BELARUS TO OBSERVE HUMAN RIGHTS. A
subcommission for discrimination and minorities of the
UN Commission for Human Rights has called on Belarus to
observe human rights, Belapan reported on 20 August. A
resolution adopted by the subcommission at the current
50th UN Session in Geneva appeals to the Belarusian
government to ensure the freedom of criticism, the
protection of journalists and human rights defenders,
and the establishment of an independent judiciary.
Minsk's official position was expressed by Ambassador
Stanislau Ahurtsou, who said the resolution "will
essentially complicate the work of the OSCE consultation
and monitoring group [in Belarus], right up to its
leaving the country, and bring the entire negotiation
process to the brink of disruption." JM

BELARUSIAN PARTY CALLS FOR 'ORTHODOX, SLAVIC MORALITY.'
The Belarusian Patriotic Party has appealed to
Belarusian citizens to reject the Western model of life
and "to form their life and free time on the basis of
Orthodox and Slavic morality," Belapan reported on 20
August. The party believes that the spread of "the
Western model of life, television advertising,
independent free press, and computer toys" will bring
about national "degradation and debilitation.... The
mass admiration of Western culture leads to
[psychological] disorders and to an erroneous and
destructive orientation in society," the appeal reads.
The party is also concerned by the future of the young
generation which, according to the appeal, is gradually
transforming into "music lovers, television addicts,
hackers, and sectarians." JM

RUSSIA AGAIN URGES LATVIA TO CEASE DISCRIMINATION.
Moscow on 21 August renewed its call for Latvia to cease
discriminating against its Russian-speaking minority,
according to ITAR-TASS. Sergei Prikhodko, Russian
presidential adviser on international affairs, told
visiting chairman of the moderate Latvian Party of
Popular Accord Janis Jurkans that "only the elimination
of Latvian legislative provisions that discriminate
against the non-indigenous population and the compliance
of legislative norms with international recommendations
can normalize bilateral relations and bring economic
cooperation to the level that meets the potential of
neighboring countries." He added that Moscow welcomes
the efforts of those political forces in Latvia that
favor the development of relations with Russia. Earlier
this week, the Fatherland and Freedom party claimed it
had collected enough signatures for a referendum on the
citizenship law amendments (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19
August 1998). The official results of the signature
collecting campaign are due to be announced on 24
August. JC

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT 'CONFUSED' BY SPEAKER'S STATEMENT
ON TALIBAN. Valdas Adamkus has expressed "confusion"
over parliamentary speaker Vytautas Landsbergis's
statement that if the situation in Afghanistan
stabilizes, Lithuania may "have concrete deeds that will
promote relations" with the Taliban, according to ITAR-
TASS on 20 August. Adamkus told the Russian news agency
that the speaker's statement "is the opinion of a
private individual who does not represent the foreign
policy of Lithuania." Under the Lithuanian Constitution,
the president and the government are responsible for
such policy. JC

GERMANY'S KANTHER PLEDGES AID TO REINFORCE POLISH
BORDER. German Interior Minister Manfred Kanther
announced during his visit to Warsaw on 20 August that
Germany will continue financing the modernization of
Polish border posts, PAP reported. He added that German
border guards will assist in training their Polish
counterparts. Kanther visited the Polish-Ukrainian
border crossing at Medyka to see how Poland is
implementing an EU program for sealing its eastern
border. According to the Polish agency, Kanther praised
the Polish border guards, noting that "we have to be
sure that the future border of the EU will be secure."
Since 1993, Germany has provided Poland with some $67
million to reinforce border posts on Poland's eastern
frontier. JM

POLISH ZLOTY FALLS IN WAKE OF RUSSIAN RUBLE DECLINE. The
Polish National Bank exchange rate of the zloty fell to
3.67 to $1 on 20 August, down by 7.5 percent since early
August, "Gazeta Wyborcza" reported. According to a bank
expert quoted by the daily, the decrease in the value of
the zloty is due to the retreat of Western investors
from East European markets following the de facto ruble
devaluation in Russia. The expert says Western investors
are selling Polish securities and buying dollars in
order to compensate for their losses in Russia. The
Polish National Bank has not taken any measures to prop
up its currency. JM

HAVEL ON 1968 SOVIET INVASION. President Vaclav Havel,
in a Czech Radio address on 20 August marking the 30th
anniversary of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of
Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact countries, said the
invasion had revealed Communism's "totalitarian
character." He said that for him, the short period of
the so-called Prague Spring meant "a time when one could
breathe and speak again after 20 years" and that "nobody
who lived in that era can forget it." RFE/RL organized
at its headquarters in Prague a symposium attended by
several key participants in the 1967-1968 reforms,
including former officials and dissidents (see related
Russian items in Part 1). MS

NEW SLOVAK CHIEF OF STAFF PROMOTED TO GENERAL.
Parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic on 20 August
promoted the newly appointed chief of staff, Marian
Miklus, to the rank of general. Rejecting criticism that
the appointment was illegal because the recommendation
of the Defense Ministry was ignored, Gasparovic told an
RFE/RL correspondent that "there is no point in
discussing legal questions now." RFE/RL's Bratislava
bureau said the speedy replacement of outgoing chief of
staff Jozef Tuchyna with Miklus indicates the strong
interest of Vladimir Meciar's government in having the
army under its control. MS

SLOVAK JOURNALIST DETAINED, BEATEN BY POLICE. The New-
York based Committee to Protect Journalists on 19 August
protested in a letter to Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar against the detention and the beating of a Slovak
journalist. Vladimir Bacisin, an investigative reporter
for the private business daily "Narodna Obroda," was
stopped on 7 August by Bratislava police for crossing a
street on a red light. The committee says Bacisin was
then beaten and jailed. It suspects the beating was in
retaliation for his reports revealing illegal practices
by firms with links to the ruling coalition. Bacisin was
released the next day. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CHIRAC SAYS INTERVENTION IN KOSOVA MAY BE NECESSARY.
French President Jacques Chirac told Russian President
Boris Yeltsin in a telephone conversation on 20 August
that UN-sanctioned military intervention in Kosova "will
become difficult to avoid" unless a cease-fire comes
into effect and negotiations begin soon. Chirac said
that Russia's role in the former Yugoslavia is
"crucial." An aide to Chirac told AP that the president
will soon telephone German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to
discuss Kosova. Chirac and U.S. President Bill Clinton
had a conversation on that topic on 8 August. Also in
Paris on 20 August, Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine
blamed "extremists" among Serbs and Kosovars alike for
the absence of any progress toward a negotiated
settlement. PM

RUGOVA SEEKS 'NO FLY ZONE.' Kosovar shadow-state leader
Ibrahim Rugova said in Prishtina on 21 August that the
international community should declare a "ban on
military flights over Kosova. That is one of the ways to
stop Serbian war machinery." Serbian forces have
frequently used aircraft and helicopter gunships in the
crackdown. Rugova also asked the international community
to supply protection for Kosovar refugees who want to go
home. He added that the Serbian paramilitary police are
preventing civilians from doing so. PM

SERBIA WARNS AGAINST 'LIES.' Ivica Dacic, who is a
spokesman for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's
Socialist Party of Serbia, said in Belgrade on 20 August
that warnings of an impending humanitarian catastrophe
in Kosova are "sensationalist lies" (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 20 August 1998). He stressed that the real
problem in Kosova is "separatism and terrorism."
Elsewhere, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj
said that, after a negotiated settlement is reached in
Kosova, the authorities will take a new census,
"correct" the voting lists in line with the results of
the census, and hold new elections, an RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service reported. PM

MEIDANI SAYS KOSOVARS CANNOT LIVE UNDER SERBS...
Albanian President Rexhep Meidani told dpa on 20 August
in Tirana that he believes the Kosova problem can be
solved in two stages, the first of which would be
autonomy. But, he added, "for me the final solution is
quite clear; there is only one...the Albanians can no
longer live under the Serbian regime." Meidani said the
Kosovars are "fighting for their freedom, for a normal
life for their children, for a life in which they will
not be suppressed," adding that "history teaches us that
when there is a struggle for life, freedom, and normal
education, it will end only after it achieves its
goals." Meidani nonetheless said he is opposed to the
creation of a "greater Albania," which implies that he
favors independence for Kosova. FS

...CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL INVOLVEMENT. Meidani also
told dpa in Tirana on 20 August that the international
community should become more involved politically and
militarily in Kosova. "An international presence in
Kosova is needed to stop the fighting and open the way
to negotiations...If the bloodshed continues...the
negotiations [will] produce [no] results." Meidani
argued that international emphasis on talks is a
"miscalculation, which has actually given a free hand to
the Serbs" to carry out their crackdown. Meidani denied
allegations that Tirana gives material and training
support to the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). He added
that "these fighters have been helped only by
individuals, not by the Albanian state.... Until now
[the state's] support has been only moral, but this
support could change, it could become stronger, if there
is no end in fighting." He doubted Serbia would attack
Albania, because in the past "they have attacked Albania
two or three times and have been defeated." FS

MOSCOW DIVIDED ON NATO EXERCISES IN ALBANIA. Foreign
ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin told ITAR-TASS
on 20 August that the NATO exercises in Albania, in
which Russian troops are also taking part, do not pose
"any threat to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."
Nesterushkin said the exercises are a "timely measure"
to prevent the escalation of the conflict in Kosovo."
But the Defense Ministry's newspaper "Krasnaya zvezda"
the same day portrayed the exercises as precisely that.
"The West is not even trying to conceal its aggressive
plans against Yugoslavia," the newspaper said. Instead,
it is trying to find some legal basis for a "NATO
invasion of Yugoslavia." Consequently, "Krasnaya zvezda"
continued, the Russian soldiers taking part in the
exercises should be seen as "monitors" of NATO's
intentions. PG

OSCE WANTS NATO TO HELP KOSOVAR REFUGEES. OSCE
Ambassador to Albania Daan Everts told Reuters in Tirana
on 19 August that NATO units should be deployed in
Albania to help house Kosovar refugees. He said NATO
troops could assist the office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees to renovate buildings,
following the example of French troops who have been
renovating a dilapidated school in Kruja during
maneuvers this week. Everts warned that northern Albania
could face a humanitarian crisis if there were another
major influx of refugees in addition to the 14,000 who
have registered with the Albanian authorities since the
beginning of 1998. Tham Meechubot, who heads the UNHCR's
Tirana office, said that his organization is making
contingency plans for the arrival of up to 50,000
refugees. FS

U.S. TIGHTENS SECURITY IN ALBANIA. U.S. officials on 21
August canceled a planned visit by journalists to the
"USS La Salle," a warship that is taking part in NATO's
"Cooperative Assembly 1998" exercises. The ship left the
port of Durres but is still in Albanian waters. AP
reported from Tirana that the moves are security
precautions in the wake of U.S. attacks on presumed
terrorist centers in Afghanistan and Sudan the previous
day. PM

SPECIAL BOSNIAN SECURITY UNIT NOW READY. Italian Colonel
Vicenzo Coppola, who heads the Multinational Specialized
Unit in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 20 August that his
350-strong force is ready to begin its work in
maintaining public order and controlling crowds. The
unit is based in the capital but maintains "outposts" in
other places. Most of the highly-trained police officers
are Italian Carabinieri. Some 70 Argentineans and
Romanians will arrive soon to join the unit, which is
under orders to use as little force as possible when
dealing with civilians. Coppola added that his group's
mandate does not include arresting suspected war
criminals. PM

REPUBLIKA SRPSKA GOVERNMENT MOVES SRNA. The government
decided on 20 August to move the headquarters of the
official news agency, SRNA, from Pale to Banja Luka. The
new director will be Dragan Davidovic, who is a former
government minister for religious affairs. On 12 August,
the government temporarily closed down SRNA, which until
then was a mouthpiece for the Pale-based hard-line
faction loyal to Radovan Karadzic (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 13 August 1998). Meanwhile in Zagreb, the
international community's Carlos Westendorp and his
deputy, Jacques Klein, told President Franjo Tudjman on
19 August that they expect Croatian Television not to
favor any one political party in its coverage of the
upcoming Bosnian elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. Croatian Television can be received in
much of Bosnia. PM

TENSION MOUNTS AGAIN IN ROMANIAN COALITION. Democratic
Party leader Petre Roman, in a letter to President Emil
Constantinescu, has complained about reports leaked to
the media that police, prosecutors, and the Romanian
Intelligence Service (SRI) are investigating alleged
illegal dealings by and links to foreign espionage of
cabinet ministers that represent his party. The letter
was leaked to the press. On 20 August, Democratic Party
deputy chairman Bogdan Niculescu-Duvaz said three
members of his party's staff have been dismissed for
"unprofessionalism" in making public the contents of a
letter that was "confidential." The same day,
Constantinescu met with Roman but they discussed only
accelerating economic reform and privatization. In a
separate press release, Constantinescu said the
allegations against the Democrats will be discussed with
representatives of the police, the SRI, and the Foreign
Intelligence Service at a special Supreme Defense
Council meeting. MS...

ROMANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER DENIES POLICE SURVEILLANCE OF
POLITICIANS. Interior Minister Gavril Dejeu on 20 August
denied accusations made earlier this week by Democratic
Party deputy chairman Traian Basescu that he has been
placed under police surveillance at Dejeu's orders,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Dejeu said that
neither himself nor any other Interior Ministry official
has issued orders "for any cabinet member to be put
under surveillance for his political activity." Also on
20 August, government spokesman Gabriel Peiu said the
restructuring of the government has been "postponed"
until after the approval by the cabinet of the 1999
budget. Peiu also said that the National Liberal Party
has been warned that Finance Minister Daniel Daianu is
infringing government regulations by continuing to
publicly oppose the deal with Bell Helicopters Textron
after that agreement was approved by the cabinet. MS

MOLDOVA NOT AFFECTED BY RUBLE DEVALUATION. The impact of
the ruble devaluation on Moldova's economy will be
"insignificant," National Bank deputy governor Veronica
Bacalu told the independent news agency Flux on 19
August. She said Moldova has "enough foreign currency
reserves" to deal with the impact but added that
Moldovan exporters that have ruble-dominated contracts
with Russian partners are likely to suffer. In an
interview with Infotag the same day, Deputy Premier Ion
Sturdza said the immediate impact was not strong but
that Moldova must "restructure" its trade. He said that
some 60 percent of Moldovan exports are currently to
Russia. Sturdza added that the ruble crisis broke out
"at the peak of the agricultural export season" and that
Moldovan exporters must now be particularly careful to
negotiate contracts in U.S. currency only. MS

TRANSDNIESTER PRISONER THANKS RFE/RL. Ilie Ilascu, who
has been condemned to death in the Transdniester and has
been in prison for more than six years, has written to
RFE/RL thanking the Romanian Service for having begun
broadcasts of a special program for Moldova a few months
ago. Ilascu says he is able to listen to the program and
that he and the other members of the Moldovan group
condemned for alleged terrorist activities are
encouraged in their struggle by the RFE/RL coverage. MS

IMF LOAN TO BULGARIA STILL UNCERTAIN. Reuters reported
on 20 August that the IMF board, which is to consider an
agreement reached in July for a three-year $800 million
loan, is still demanding that some 15 so-called "prior
actions" be taken before the loan is approved. Those
"actions" would lay the ground for further reforms. MS

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               Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc.
                     All rights reserved.
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