To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 166 Part II, 28 August 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 166 Part II, 28 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

* PUSTOVOYTENKO SAYS UKRAINE NOT THREATENED BY RUSSIAN
CRISIS

* SHELL KILLS ELEVEN IN KOSOVA

* POLICE CLASH WITH PROTESTERS IN ALBANIA

End Note: RUSSIA'S NEIGHBORS ON RUSSIA'S PROBLEMS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

PUSTOVOYTENKO SAYS UKRAINE NOT THREATENED BY RUSSIAN
CRISIS... Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko
told journalists on 27 August in Kyiv that he does not
believe the country is facing a financial crisis of the
same dimensions as Russia, dpa reported. "We will
bolster the hryvnya and take further steps toward
reform," the agency quoted him as saying. Ukrainian
National Bank Chairman Viktor Yushchenko added that he
does not see any reasons for a "deep devaluation" of the
hryvnya. But he admitted that changing the 1998 exchange
corridor of 1.8-2.25 hryvni to $1 remains an option,
Interfax reported. JM

... SAYS IMF HAS NOT POSTPONED LOAN... Pustovoytenko
said the IMF has not postponed issuing a $2.2 billion
loan to Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 August. He
said that IMF Managing-Director Michel Camdessus
promised at a 26 August meeting with Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma, Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka, and Russian acting Premier Viktor
Chernomyrdin that Ukraine will obtain its loan as
planned. JM

...SAYS RUSSIA, UKRAINE SHOULD MUTUALLY CANCEL DEBTS.
Pustovoytenko also said the Ukrainian government wants
Ukraine's debt to Gazprom and Russia's debts to
Ukrainian plants to be canceled, Interfax reported on 27
August. He added that this problem was a major item on
the agenda of his talks with Chernomyrdin on 26 August.
"We will insist on this arrangement," the agency quoted
Pustovoytenko as saying. In early July, Ukraine owed
Russia $610 million for gas supplies. JM

WORLD BANK REPRESENTATIVE TO LEAVE BELARUS. When David
Phillips, World Bank representative in Minsk, leaves
Belarus in two weeks, nobody will be sent to replace
him, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 August. Philips told
journalists that the main reason for his departure is
the lack of progress in implementing economic reforms
that the World Bank and Belarus agreed to in a June 1997
memorandum. Philips noted some positive aspects in the
Belarusian economy, including a significant increase in
GDP and industrial production. But he said the growth
results mainly from resuming operations at formerly idle
enterprises and from regaining access to the Russian
market. He added that the growth cannot be sustained
without structural transformations and large foreign
investments. JM

LATVIAN CITIZENSHIP REFERENDUM TO BE HELD WITH
ELECTIONS. The Central Election Committee on 26 August
announced that the referendum on amendments to the
citizenship law will be held at the same time as the
general elections scheduled for 3-4 October. BNS
reported that if the parliament adopts necessary changes
to the law on referenda, the vote on the citizenship
amendments will take place on one day only; otherwise,
voting on those amendments will take place on two
consecutive days. The committee's decision was backed by
five members, with three voting against and chairman
Andris Cimdars abstaining. The committee also announced
the final result of the campaign to collect signatures
supporting the referendum: 226,530 citizens added their
signature to the petition, of whom 1,506 live abroad. JC

LATVIAN ECONOMICS MINISTER SURVIVES NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE.
Legislators on 26 August voted down a no-confidence
motion in Laimonis Strujevics by 33 to 14 with 13
abstentions, BNS reported. The motion was moved by
deputies from the opposition For Latvia and People's
Harmony factions as well as several independent deputies
over proposed changes in privatization regulations
whereby the state oil enterprise Ventspils nafta would
have been sold for some 8 million lats ($16 million)
below its market value. Those change were supported by
Strujevics but opposed by his aide, Andis Bumbieris, who
allegedly committed suicide shortly after. The proposed
changes in the privatization regulations have since been
scrapped. JC

PREMIER SAYS LITHUANIA NOT TO BE AFFECTED BY RUSSIAN
FINANCIAL CRISIS. Gediminas Vagnorius told journalists
on 26 August that he does not believe the financial
crisis in Russia will spread to Lithuania, BNS reported.
Vagnorius said that the government began to prepare for
possible upheavals on Russia's financial market in the
spring, when "the first symptoms of the crisis"
appeared. To that end, the premier said, "we started
accumulating financial resources." He noted that
Lithuanian foreign-currency reserves increased by $600
million this year to $1.699 billion as of 1 August,
while Lithuania's foreign debt now totals $1.047
billion. "So, our gold and foreign-currency reserves
exceed the total foreign indebtedness of Lithuania, and
this is already a guarantee of stability on the
Lithuanian financial market," he commented. JC

KWASNIEWSKI APPEALS FOR 'SENSIBLE SILENCE' ON RUSSIAN
CRISIS. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has
appealed for a "sensible silence" regarding Russia's
financial crisis, PAP reported on 27 August. He said
Poland should analyze the Russian crisis in order to
minimize its effects on the Polish economy. Referring to
an analysis made by his economic adviser Marek Belka,
Kwasniewski said the Russian crisis is not "crushing"
for Poland. He added that the Polish and Russian
economies have become different owing to consistent
reforms implemented in Poland since 1990. Similarly,
Leon Gomulka, adviser to Polish Finance Minister Leszek
Balcerowicz, told the 28 August "Gazeta Wyborcza" that
Russia's financial crisis does not increase the risk of
foreign investments in Poland. But he added that if the
Russian crisis persists, Poland may lose up to $1
billion dollar next year owing to lower exports to
Russia. JM

POLISH BISHOPS URGE FAITHFUL TO VOTE IN LOCAL ELECTIONS.
Polish Catholic bishops on 26 August appealed to their
congregation to take part in the local government
elections scheduled for 11 October, PAP reported. "It is
important to extend the democratic transformations,
which have brought about deep changes in Poland over the
recent years, on to the basic structures of local
government," the agency quoted one archbishop as saying.
JM

CZECH REPUBLIC TO ALLOW RFE/RL FARSI BROADCASTS ON TRIAL
BASIS. The Czech government on 27 August announced that
RFE/RL will be able to begin broadcasting to Iran from 1
September on a trial basis. Government spokesman Libor
Roucek said the cabinet also decided that the U.S. must
officially request the consent of the Czech government
for the broadcasts. The spokesman said the cabinet
decided not to revoke the previous government's position
on broadcasting to Iran, but the government will review
the "risks" connected with the broadcasts and make a
"definitive decision" by the end of 1998. Roucek said
that the U.S. has not yet requested permission for
broadcasts to Iraq and that if it does so, the Czech
government will consider the request "within a
reasonable amount of time." The Iranian Embassy in
Prague on 27 August issued a protest about the plans to
start Farsi broadcasts. MS

HAVEL TO LEAVE HOSPITAL. Doctors treating ailing
President Vaclav Havel on 27 August announced that he
will be discharged from the hospital the next day and
allowed to return home, CTK reported. The doctors said
they are optimistic that Havel will be able to travel to
the U.S. in mid-September as planned. In other news,
former Premier Vaclav Klaus on 27 August protested
against government plans to replace managers of state-
owned companies, AP reported. He said it is
"unacceptable" to replace these managers with "faithful
friends" of the Social Democrats. MS

MOCHOVCE NUCLEAR PLANT BECOMES FULLY OPERATIONAL.
Slovakia's controversial Mochovce nuclear plant is to be
fully operational by 28 August, a spokesman for the
plant told Reuters on the previous day. The plant will
have to run at full production output without any
interruption for six days before it is allowed to start
the so-called "trial period," the spokesman said. The
Mochovce plant has been supplying electricity to the
national grid since it first started up in July,
triggering strong protests in neighboring Austria, which
considers the Soviet-designed plant to be potentially
unsafe. A second reactor at the plant is expected to
begin operating some time before September 1999. ITAR-
TASS reported on 27 August that acting Minister for
Atomic Energy Evgenii Adamov will attend a ceremony at
the plant and will conduct talks with Slovak leaders on
nuclear energy cooperation. MS

RUSSIAN CRISIS HITS HUNGARIAN MARKETS. The ongoing
financial crisis in Russia took a heavy toll on the
Budapest Stock Exchange on 27 August, causing a halt in
the trading of most issues, Hungarian media reported.
The BUX index experienced the second-largest fall in its
history, plunging 14.3 percent. The national currency
has also weakened to 227.07 forints to $1 from 226 the
previous day. Finance Minister Zsigmond Jarai said the
country's economy is growing and has reserves totaling
$9 billion. There is no need to devalue the forint, but
the National Bank may intervene again to protect the
national currency, he concluded. MSZ

HUNGARY'S POSTABANK INVOLVED IN SPYING SCANDAL?
Postabank may have ordered the private company Pinpoint
to collect information on the business interests of
Federation of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party
leaders, "Nepszava" reported on 28 August, quoting
administration officials. Postabank officials refused to
comment on the allegation. Former Prime Minister Gyula
Horn told Hungarian media that neither the previous
government nor his Socialist Party ordered the illegal
collection of data. "Vilaggazdasag" reported it is
possible that individuals who had high-level contacts
with the previous administration, rather than the
administration itself, ordered the surveillance. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SHELL KILLS ELEVEN IN KOSOVA. Serbian forces southwest
of Prishtina killed eight children and three women with
a mortar shell that Serbs fired at the tractor-trailer
on which the ethnic Albanian family was riding. Three
other family members were badly wounded in the attack on
27 August. The Kosova Information Center, which is close
to the government of the shadow-state, reported from
Prishtina that Serbian artillery continued to pound 14
ethnic Albanian villages near Suhareka. A spokesman for
the center appealed to the international community to
send monitors to that region. And near Prishtina
airport, Serbian forces refused to allow a UN
humanitarian aid convoy to leave the capital. AP
reported that a shipment of anti-aircraft missiles may
have been leaving the airport on trucks at that time. PM

UCK SAYS FIGHT WILL GO ON. The Prishtina daily "Koha
Ditore" on 27 August published a statement by the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) in which the guerrillas promised
to "continue the liberation struggle" and appealed to
the people for support. The UCK called on unidentified
moderate politicians to "abandon empty rhetoric and
verbal messages [and instead] make more concrete
contributions to its nation and homeland." AP reported
that this appeal may be directed at some politicians
based outside Kosova, whom the UCK suspects are wavering
in their support for the guerrillas. PM

MORE U.S. AID FOR KOSOVA. Assistant Secretary of State
Julia Taft visited Kosovar refugees near Peja on 27
August and said that she is "trying to find a way to
catalyze all the [international relief] actions in some
kind of [joint] strategy." Taft warned that the advent
of cold weather in about six weeks could lead to a
"catastrophe" unless refugees receive adequate food,
clothing, and shelter. She said that the Serbian
authorities have agreed to set up 11 aid distribution
centers in various parts of Kosova. Taft added that she
will ask President Bill Clinton to authorize additional
"millions of dollars" in relief for Kosova in addition
to the $11 million in aid that Washington has already
approved. PM

U.S. TO SEND FACT-FINDING MISSION TO KOSOVA. An
unidentified State Department official said in
Washington on 27 August that John Shattuck, who is
assistant secretary of state for democracy, labor and
human rights, will go to Kosova shortly. The official
added that the Yugoslav embassy is continuing to delay
issuing a visa for David Scheffer, who is Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright's special representative for
war crimes issues, Reuters reported. Commenting on the
reason for the new missions, the official said that
Washington wants to "get the facts and make sure people
understand our interest and our desire to do the right
thing there." He regretted, however, that "repeated
promises from Belgrade to do more, to do better, to
allow humanitarian access, really have not been met." PM

ALBANIA HOLDS MANEUVERS NEAR KOSOVA BORDER. The Albanian
army held military exercises at Helshan, near the border
with Kosova's Gjakova region, on 27 August. Taking part
in the "Drini '98" maneuvers were 650 soldiers, who
fired live ammunition. The exercises also involved 10
tanks and numerous anti-aircraft guns, mortars, and
heavy artillery. Defense Minister Luan Hajdaraga told
the soldiers that "with the bloody Kosova conflict
becoming more dangerous every day, such exercises have a
special value in strengthening our country's stability
and security." A NATO official told Reuters that the
soldiers practiced "defensive tactics." Albanian General
Kudusi Lama said the exercises demonstrated the
readiness of his troops to repel any attack. But he
added that "we stay calm in the face of the increasing
number of [border] incidents in order to avoid being
provoked." FS

EU CONCERNED ABOUT SERBIAN TREATMENT OF JOURNALISTS...
On 27 August in Vienna, the EU Presidency, which is
currently held by Austria, issued a statement objecting
to "the pattern of denial of access" to foreign
journalists in Kosova. "We are also especially concerned
about the recent expulsion of journalists," the text
continued. The statement reminded Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic that freedom of expression is a basic
human right, adding that the government should help
create favorable working conditions for journalists,
Reuters wrote. PM

...AS IS OSCE. Elsewhere in the Austrian capital,
Freimut Duve, who is the OSCE's spokesman on media
affairs, said on 27 August that his office has "received
several reports of harassment of journalists by Serbian
police, specifically an attack on Kurt Schork of Reuters
and Anthony Lloyd of 'The Times' of London." He added
that in June, a Danish TV crew's vehicle was fired on by
Serbian forces and that other foreign journalists have
been denied visas or expelled. Duve suggested that the
Belgrade authorities have particularly negative feelings
toward German journalists. In response, Yugoslav
Ambassador to Austria Dobrosav Veizovic said that the
OSCE should concern itself with promoting what he called
"free, responsible reporting." He charged that those to
whom the authorities denied visas had written
"sensationalist lies" about Kosova. Veizovic added that
the UCK "has ill-treated Serbian journalists and made it
difficult for them to report." PM

BELGRADE DAILY SUSPENDS PUBLICATION. The independent
daily "Nasa Borba" stopped publication for two weeks on
27 August, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The
move comes in the wake of months of financial problems
and disputes between the staff and the newspaper's
owner. Many journalists left "Nasa Borba" earlier this
year to help found the independent daily "Danas." In
unrelated news, the Serbian government announced that
all Serbian motorists must register their cars in
Serbia. Hundreds of thousands of Serbs have registered
their cars in Montenegro, where fees are hundreds or
thousands of dollars lower than in Serbia. PM

TUDJMAN BOWS OUT OF OWN MEETING. Croatian President
Franjo Tudjman did not attend a meeting in Zagreb on 27
August to which he had invited Croatian political
leaders from Bosnia-Herzegovina to discuss the upcoming
elections there. His top aides Franjo Greguric and Ivic
Pasalic represented him in talks with the leaders of the
Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) and the Croatian
Party of [Historic] Rights instead. Leaders of the other
Bosnian Croat parties turned down Tudjman's invitation
on the grounds that he and his state-run media allegedly
favor the HDZ. Observers noted that the refusal of most
Bosnian Croat leaders to attend his meeting was a major
embarrassment to Tudjman. PM

POLICE CLASH WITH PROTESTERS IN ALBANIA. Protesters
injured a policeman when they tried to break through
police cordons outside the residence of Prime Minister
Fatos Nano on 27 August. Some demonstrators threw stones
at the police when marching toward the residence from
central Skanderbeg Square. Police arrested several
protesters. The authorities had earlier banned the
demonstration and warned residents of the capital to
stay indoors in order to avoid "terrorist attacks"
should the rally take place. Police nonetheless did not
intervene when the estimated 3,000 protesters gathered
at the square prior to the clashes. The opposition
supporters were protesting the arrest of six former
Democratic Party government officials, accused of
committing crimes against humanity during the unrest in
1997 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 August 1998). At an
earlier demonstration, Democratic leader Sali Berisha
had called on his supporters "to use all means" to
overthrow the Socialist-led coalition government. FS

MOLDOVAN DEPUTY PREMIER IN ROMANIA. Ion Sturdza, on a
two-day visit to Romania, met with Foreign Minister
Andrei Plesu on 27 August and discussed bilateral
cooperation, particularly in the economic sphere, and
the situation in the Transdniester, RFE/RL's Bucharest
bureau reported. Sturdza said Moldova may be interested
in setting up a "joint energy pool" with Romania, but he
added that his country would have difficulty finding
funds to participate in the financing of a second
nuclear reactor at Cernavoda. MS

BULGARIA DENIES EXTRADITION OF ISLAMIC EXTREMIST TO
EGYPT. An Interior Ministry spokesman on 27 August
denied that Bulgaria has recently detained and
extradited to Egypt a member of the Jihad group who had
been condemned in absentia to life imprisonment, BTA
reported. Citing the London-based "Al-Hayat" Arabic
daily, AP earlier reported that Issam Abdel-Tawab Abdel-
Aleem had been handed over to Egyptian authorities. The
report said he entered Bulgaria from Albania last
November with his Albanian wife and asked for political
asylum. It also said his wife had been handed over to
the Albanian authorities. MS

END NOTE

RUSSIA'S NEIGHBORS ON RUSSIA'S PROBLEMS

by Paul Goble

	The leaders of Russia's immediate neighbors--the 11
former Soviet republics and the three Baltic States--
appear confident that the ongoing political turmoil in
Moscow will not have a negative impact on either their
internal development or their bilateral relations with
the Russian Federation.
	Some even have suggested that the return of Viktor
Chernomyrdin might bring Russia some stability, allow it
to recover from its current crisis, and thus make it
possible for relations between Moscow and their
countries to improve.
	But a few have indicated that they are concerned
that Moscow's problems could become theirs either
directly, if Russian politicians try to exploit
nationalist themes, or indirectly, if Western
governments and investors decide that the entire post-
Soviet region is now at risk.
	Such a range of judgments would not surprise anyone
if it came from the neighbors of any other major country
going through difficulties. But it undoubtedly will
surprise many who still think of the post-Soviet region
as a single unit and who believe that the leaders of all
the countries there still focus first and foremost on
Moscow.
	Across the region once occupied by the USSR,
presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers
reacted calmly to Boris Yeltsin's decision to bring back
Chernomyrdin as prime minister and the latter's
willingness to cooperate with Communists in the Russian
parliament.
	The statement of the Kyrgyz presidential press
secretary earlier this week was typical. Kanybek
Imanaliyev said the change is "Russia's internal
affair," a statement echoed in Tajikistan and other
Central Asian capitals.
	Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis reflected the
views of most when he said the change in government in
Moscow will have no impact on Russia's relationship with
his country. The return of Chernomyrdin, the Latvian
leader said, is "in no way linked to relations with
Latvia." And he pointed out that at the present time,
whatever some citizens of his country may think, "Moscow
is least of all thinking about Latvia."
	Most leaders were inclined to put an even more
positive interpretation on developments in the Russian
capital. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said he
hopes Chernomyrdin's return will enhance stability in
Russia, which, he said, is now "crucial for everybody"
but "especially for Georgia."
	Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi said he believes
that Chernomyrdin's "experience and influence will help
overcome the severe financial crisis" in Russia. He
expressed confidence in the future of Russian-Moldovan
relations on the basis of their development during
Chernomyrdin's earlier tenure as Russian prime minister.
	And Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus said he is
confident Chernomyrdin has the skill to "stabilize the
situation" in Russia, which, he added, would promote the
continued expansion of bilateral ties "in the right
direction for the benefit of our peoples."
	But in the midst of this generally upbeat set of
assessments, there were some who indicated that the
problems in Russia might spread to their own countries.
In contrast to his president, Latvian Foreign Minister
Valdis Birkavs was one such person. He suggested that
the deepening of the economic crisis in Russia could
lead to problems for Latvia.
	That conclusion, Birkavs said, reflects the fact
that "Russia unfortunately uses Latvia in its domestic
political games." But even he said that Moscow now faces
so many domestic problems that it is unlikely to focus
its attention on any of its neighbors anytime soon.
	Others expressed concern that Russian political and
economic problems could have a serious impact on Western
assessments of their countries. Estonian President
Lennart Meri, for example, said he does not believe that
Chernomyrdin's appointment will have a negative impact
on Estonian-Russian relations. But he indicated that the
devaluation of the ruble and the declines in the Russian
stock markets could lead some in the West to draw more
sweeping conclusions about the region.
	In every case, at least some of the confidence
reflects the requirements of diplomacy. But equally, if
not more, important, this confidence also reflects the
extent to which these are 14 independent and very
different countries, significantly less dependent on
Russia now than they were only a few years ago.

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