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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 164 Part II, 26 August 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 164 Part II, 26 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

* IMF TO REVIEW UKRAINE'S ECONOMIC SITUATION BEFORE DECIDING
ON LOAN

* UCK SPOKESMAN PLEDGES TO HELP FIND MISSING SERBS

* ALBANIAN PREMIER DENIES HE ORDERED FORMER MINISTERS' ARREST
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

IMF TO REVIEW UKRAINE'S ECONOMIC SITUATION BEFORE DECIDING ON
LOAN. The IMF on 25 August announced that it may need more
time to assess the effects on Ukraine of Russia's financial
crisis and change of government before setting a date to
approve a $2.2 billion loan to Ukraine, AP reported. The IMF
Executive Board was expected to meet by the end of August to
approve the first installment of the loan, totaling $200-250
million. Ukrainian officials have said the loan will be used
primarily to replenish the National Bank's reserves. In the
wake of the Russian ruble plunge, the Ukrainian hryvnya slid
to 2.249 to $1 on 25 August, only slightly below the upper
limit of 2.250 to $1 set by the government. JM

PROTESTING MINERS IN LUHANSK UNDER INVESTIGATION. The Luhansk
Oblast Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation into
a clash between riot police and 150 miners who were
protesting wage arrears, Ukrainian Radio and Television
reported on 25 August. The clash took place in a Luhansk city
park the previous day, Ukraine's Independence Day, when the
miners gathered to burn a straw effigy. Police troops arrived
at the scene after receiving an anonymous telephone call
saying that the effigy contained an explosive device. The
miners refused to let policemen examine the effigy and fought
back. Twelve policemen and eight miners were hospitalized
after the skirmish. JM

ODESSA ELECTS MAYOR. Ruslan Bodelan, former governor of
Odessa Oblast, was elected Odessa mayor on 23 August,
Ukrainian Television reported on 25 August. Bodelan, who was
supported by the government in his mayoral bid, received some
100,000 votes (36 percent) in the ballot. More than 30
candidates ran in the election, and turnout was 36 percent.
The previous mayoral elections in Odessa in March were
declared invalid when the victor, former Odessa Mayor Eduard
Hurvits, was found guilty of breaking the law. Hurvits was
banned from running again. JM

LUKASHENKA TO RAISE MINIMUM WAGE FOR STATE EMPLOYEES.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has announced that
the government will increase the minimum wage for state
employees, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 25 August.
The hike will take place in two stages: beginning 1 November,
the minimum wage will be increased by 20 percent and as of 1
January 1999 by 25 percent. The current minimum wage in
Belarus is 250,000 Belarusian rubles (some $4). JM

ESTONIAN AUDIT CHIEF CALLS FOR TWO MINISTERS' DISMISSAL. Head
of State Audit Office Juhan Parts is urging that Prime
Minister Mart Siimann dismiss Finance Minister Mart Opmann
and Social Minister Tiiu Aro over the loss of state funds in
Maapank, ETA reported on 25 August, citing the dailies
"Postimees" and "Eesti Paevaleht." Parts reportedly sent a
letter to Siimann summarizing what happened at Maapank and
suggesting the dismissal of the two ministers. "Postimees"
reported that criticism against Opmann and Aro focuses on the
transfer of large sums of state funds to Maapank at a time
when the bank's bankruptcy was imminent. Parts has said his
report on Maapank will be publicly released next week.
Maapank collapsed at the beginning of June reportedly owing
to mismanagement and misappropriation of funds. JC

OSCE COMMISSIONER SAYS CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENTS 'NOT DANGEROUS'
FOR LATVIANS... Speaking in Riga on 25 August, OSCE High
Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel said he
hopes the Latvian people will know what they are voting for
in the referendum on amendments to the citizenship law (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August 1998). BNS quoted Van der Stoel
as saying that he "hopes the Latvian people will comprehend
what these amendments imply and what they don't imply." He
stressed that amendments removing the so-called
naturalization windows and automatically granting citizenship
to children born after independence are "not dangerous" for
the Latvian people. And in meetings at the Latvian Foreign
Ministry the same day, Van der Stoel threw his support behind
the amendments, which, he said, will significantly influence
Latvia's international position--for example, in cooperation
with the EU. JC

...WHILE MOSCOW AGAIN EXPRESSES CONCERN. Also on 25 August,
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said
that the "humanitarian situation" in Latvia continues to be a
cause of "serious concern" for Moscow, ITAR-TASS reported.
Referring to the campaign to collect signatures for a
referendum on the citizenship law amendments, Rakhmanin noted
that "national-radical forces" in Latvia have succeeded in
preventing those amendments from entering into force. "When
Latvian politicians urge the parliament to pass the
amendments and then the same politicians suggest their
abrogation, this deserves to be classed as hypocrisy," he
commented. The Fatherland and Freedom party, of which Prime
Minister Guntars Krasts is a member, was the driving force
behind the referendum. JC

POLISH BISHOPS SAY PAPAL CROSS TO STAY AT AUSCHWITZ. Polish
Catholic Church leaders met in Czestochowa on 25 August to
formulate the Church's official stance on the Polish-Jewish
controversy over some 150 crosses erected outside the former
Auschwitz concentration camp. In a statement issued after the
meeting, the Polish bishops expressed their "conviction" that
the large papal cross erected in 1979 "will remain in place,"
while the newly erected crosses "will find a respectful place
in our parishes and churches," AP reported on 26 August. The
statement appeals for an end to erecting further crosses,
saying that "escalating the conflict brings harm to the
Church and turns against our homeland." The bishops added
that the campaign of erecting crosses at Auschwitz "painfully
harms the different sensitivity of our brothers, the Jews."
JM

POLISH FARMERS SUSPEND PROTEST OVER GRAIN IMPORTS. Leaders of
Poland's three largest farmers trade unions have appealed to
farmers to suspend until 10 September all road blockades set
up to protest grain imports, "Rzeczpospolita" reported on 26
August. If the government does not begin "honest
negotiations" before that date, the trade unions threaten to
launch a nationwide protest. Polish farmers demand that the
government introduce higher prices and state contracts for
agricultural products as well as reduce grain imports. Prime
Minister Jerzy Buzek said on 25 August that grain imports
this month decreased fivefold. He noted that the government
cannot reduce those imports further without violating
international agreements. Meanwhile, the police is suing some
500 farmers for their participation in road blockades in
recent months. JM

MECIAR SAYS SLOVAK UNITY THREATENED. Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar on 25 August said "those who believe that Slovakia's
ethnic Hungarians must integrate into Europe together with
Hungary are the advocates of Slovakia's partition," Hungarian
media reported. He alleged that Hungarian nationalists seek
to control Slovak politics and that "helped by certain
circles in Budapest," they aim at "the common integration of
Hungarians into Europe". Last week, Hungarian Prime Minister
Viktor Orban said that it would be in both countries'
interests if Slovakia joined the EU. Meciar also expressed
concern about the Slovak opposition's readiness to join
forces with Hungarian political forces in Slovakia to form an
alliance against him. MSZ

HUNGARIAN PREMIER SAYS HIS PARTY WAS SPIED ON. Orban on 25
August said that data on him and other leaders of the
Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party were
illegally collected before the May parliamentary elections.
He said members of his cabinet are facing "a well-constructed
slander campaign based on information illegally obtained
under the previous government." Former Prime Minister Gyula
Horn and other leading officials of his administration firmly
deny the charge, saying the secret services worked within the
law. Orban has ordered a government investigation into the
case. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UCK SPOKESMAN PLEDGES TO HELP FIND MISSING SERBS. Adem
Demaci, who is one of Kosova's best-known politicians and
also the political spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army
(UCK), told independent Belgrade Radio B-92 on 26 August that
he will contact UCK "headquarters" to see what can be done to
free two employees of Serbian Radio Prishtina. Demaci told B-
92 that the UCK does not engage in kidnapping but that its
officials will try to find out who captured the men and
arrange their release. The two men "disappeared" recently,
and independent journalists and local Serbian officials have
called for their release (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August
1998). RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 25 August
that Bosko Drobnjak, who is the Serbian information secretary
for Kosova, has appealed for help to Demaci. This marks the
first time that Serbian government personnel have contacted a
representative of the UCK in an official capacity. PM

SERBIAN AUTHORITIES HINDER REFUGEE RELIEF. Serbian forces
continued their assault to the west and southwest of
Prishtina on 25 August. The Prishtina daily "Koha Ditore"
reported that at least 25 Kosovars died within 48 hours
during the offensive. Meanwhile in Geneva, spokesmen for the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that
Serbian forces in Kosova are preventing UNHCR relief convoys
from reaching encampments of displaced persons. The officials
noted that one convoy consisting of 10 vehicles and goods to
supply 30,000 persons is waiting to leave Prishtina. The
spokesmen added that humanitarian conditions in Kosova
resemble those in Bosnia at the beginning of the conflict
there, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. PM

MILOSEVIC WANTS SANCTIONS LIFTED. Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic told U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill
in Belgrade on 25 August that "if the U.S. truly wants to do
something positive for this region, it must lift the
sanctions" in force against federal Yugoslavia in response to
its crackdown in Kosova. Milosevic added that he will
continue to fight "terrorism" in the province but said that
he seeks a dialogue to end the unrest. He charged that the
violence is the work of "terrorist gangs." Hill has spent
several weeks engaged in seemingly fruitless shuttle
diplomacy in the region. PM

BELGRADE CHARGES ALBANIA WITH BORDER VIOLATION. The federal
Yugoslav Defense Ministry on 25 August issued a statement
accusing Albanian forces of firing two mortar shells into
Yugoslav territory. The announcement said the incident
occurred on 24 August near the border outpost of Kosare in
Kosova. Meanwhile, AP reported from Padesh, on the Albanian
side of the border, that the civilian population there has
begun arming itself with machine guns and bazookas following
several recent border incidents in the area. FS

BOSNIAN CROAT LEADER SNUBS TUDJMAN. Kresimir Zubak, who is
the Croatian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, said in
Sarajevo on 25 August that he will not attend a meeting of
leading politicians from Bosnia-Herzegovina with Croatian
President Franjo Tudjman slated for the following day.
Tudjman recently invited several politicians to Zagreb to
discuss the Bosnian general elections, which will take place
on 12-13 September. Most invitees refused on the grounds that
Tudjman allegedly favors Ante Jelavic of the nationalist
Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). Zubak broke with the HDZ
after Jelavic's election as party leader this past spring and
founded his own New Croatian Initiative. Observers noted that
Zubak's refusal of Tudjman's invitation is the clearest
signal to date that Zubak intends to follow the example of
Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic by breaking with
nationalists and seeking to work with moderates and the
international community. PM

MUSLIMS NOT WELCOME IN VITEZ. Hanns Schumacher, who is a
deputy to the international community's Carlos Westendorp,
obtained no agreement from local Croats in the central
Bosnian town of Vitez on 25 August, when he tried to
negotiate the return of several hundred Muslim refugees to
their former homes in nearby villages. Schumacher's
spokeswoman told AP that the Croats "were very upset and not
very friendly." She added that Schumacher holds the HDZ
responsible for the failure of the meeting, because its
officials had earlier assured him of its success. The Muslims
attempted to go home one month ago but were driven out by a
Croatian mob. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, spokesmen for SFOR said
that investigators have concluded that charges made by the
Madrid daily "El Mundo" in May that peacekeepers and Bosnian
gangs are running a prostitution ring are groundless (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 1998). PM

SLOVENIA, CROATIA TO SEEK ARBITRATION. Slovenian Foreign
Minister Boris Frlec and his Croatian counterpart, Mate
Granic, agreed in Mokrice, Slovenia, on 25 August to try to
resolve four outstanding problems between their two countries
within three months. If any issues remain outstanding after
that deadline, Croatia and Slovenia will seek international
arbitration in order to put an end to disputes that have
bedeviled their relations since they seceded from the former
Yugoslavia in 1991. The issues are: control of the jointly-
owned nuclear power plant at Krsko, Slovenia; demarcation of
land and sea frontiers; ensuring property rights for Slovenes
who own homes on Croatia' sea coast; and guaranteeing the
deposits of Croats in the Ljubljanska Banka. PM

ALBANIAN PREMIER DENIES HE ORDERED FORMER MINISTERS'
ARREST... Fatos Nano, in a televised address to the nation on
25 August, strongly denied opposition claims that he recently
ordered the arrests of three former ministers and three other
former high-ranking officials. Public prosecutors have
charged the six with having committed crimes against humanity
during the unrest in 1997 (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 24 August
1998). Nano said: "I reject with disgust...every charge [of
involvement in] the arrest of the six." He stressed that his
governing coalition has "resisted the temptation...to
interfere with the work of the judiciary." Alluding to his
own imprisonment under the previous government, he stressed:
"I know far better than anybody else what it means to be a
victim of a judicial branch that [does the work of those
wielding] political power." He added that his only "revenge"
for his own imprisonment will be to build a "modern Albania."
FS

...WHILE HOPES FOR RECONCILIATION FADE. "Koha Jone" Editor-
in-Chief Armand Shkullaku told Reuters on 25 August that "if
there was any hope for the [opposition Democratic Party] to
return to parliament or the talks about the drafting of a new
constitution, now this hope has totally disappeared." He
added that "the arrests will, without doubt, only aggravate
the situation." The Democrats have been intermittently
boycotting the parliament since October 1997 on the grounds
that the government has allegedly subjected them to political
persecution. Opposition leader and former President Sali
Berisha was due to meet Nano at the end of August for talks
on a new constitution, but Berisha rejected the invitation
after the arrests. Reuters quoted an unidentified Western
official as saying that "there will [not] be any
repercussions [over the arrests] among voters," adding that
ordinary "Albanians are too busy with their own personal
survival" to care. FS

TENSIONS WITHIN ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTY IN ROMANIA. The
chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania
(UDMR), Bela Marko, says the UDMR's honorary chairman, Bishop
Laszlo Tokes, must choose between his present honorary
position and that of leader of a "platform" within the UDMR,
the independent Pro TV reported on 25 August. Marko was
responding to Tokes' initiative to hold a "Szeklers' Forum"
in the Transylvanian town of Cernatul de Jos next month and
to his criticism of the UDMR's participation in the ruling
coalition. In an interview with the Budapest daily "Nepszava"
on 24 August, Marko said that if the government rejects the
initiative to divide the Babes-Bolyai university in Cluj into
a Romanian and a Hungarian university, another Hungarian-
language state university will have to be set up in the same
town. He accused the UDMR's coalition partners of
"politicking" and of "thinking more of the next elections
than of the next generation." MS

OPPOSITION TO ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER'S INTENTION TO CUT
BUDGET. Defense Minister Victor Babiuc on 25 August said
Finance Minister Daniel Daianu's proposed cuts in military
spending mean that the army will barely be able to cover
wages and the costs of food and military equipment. He added
that the Finance Ministry "does not comprehend it is
endangering national security." Health Minister Hajdu Gabor
has likewise opposed the envisaged cuts in his ministry's
allocations. Also on 25 August, Daianu met with
representatives of the main trade unions and told them that
the economic situation does not make it possible to cover
wage indexation till the end of 1998. According to trade
union leaders, this is a "death sentence" for unionists.
Meanwhile, the largest mining trade union has announced it
will launch a strike on 27 August, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported.

ROMANIAN ROMA SUE EXTREMIST LEADER. The Romani Party on 25
August announced it has asked the Prosecutor- General's
Office to place Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim
Tudor under investigation for "spreading chauvinistic-
nationalist propaganda" and for "incitement to acts of
violence and to racial hatred," AFP reported. Reacting to
Tudor's declaration earlier this month that Roma who refuse
"integration" into Romanian society must be "interned" in
special settlements, the Romani Party Secretary-General, Ivan
Gheorghe, said that a "state that tolerates such declarations
is a racist state." MS

MOLDOVAN-RUN SCHOOLS IN TRANSDNIESTER TO REMAIN OPEN. All
Transdniester schools run by Chisinau are to remain open
during the new school year, which begins on 1 September,
Infotag reported on 25 August. An agreement has been reached
between the Moldovan and the Transdniester Ministries of
Education after a visit paid to Tiraspol by Moldovan
Education Minister Anatol Grimalschi earlier this month.
Chisinau will continue financing these schools, including one
in Tiraspol where teaching is conducted using the Latin
alphabet. Earlier, the separatist authorities announced they
will close down that school. Six other Moldovan schools in
the Transdniester also use the Latin script. In Moldova
itself, the education and science trade union announced a
strike beginning on 2 September to protest wage arrears,
RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS TOP MILITARY COMMANDERS.
President Petar Stoyanov on 25 August appointed Major-General
Pencho Dobrev as deputy chief of staff in charge of material
and technical supplies. Major General Stefan Nikolov was
appointed commander of the Rapid Reaction Forces. Lieutenant
General Stefan Popov has been relieved from his duties as
commander of the Bulgarian air force but remains the chief of
the air force's General Staff. General Ginio Tonev has been
dismissed as commander of the land forces but remains chief
of the land forces' General Staff, BTA reported. MS

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