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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 167 Part II, 31 August 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 167 Part II, 31 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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RUSSIA IN CRISIS
Continuing coverage in English and Russian of Russia's
economic and political crisis.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/ruchaos98/index.html

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Headlines, Part II

* RUSSIAN RADAR SITE IN LATVIA SHUT DOWN

* KOSOVARS CALL FOR INVESTIGATION OF CREMATORY CHARGE

* OSCE, COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALL FOR CALM IN ALBANIA
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANKER CONFIDENT ABOUT NATIONAL
CURRENCY. Ukrainian National Bank Chairman Viktor
Yushchenko said on 28 August that "the devaluation of
the hryvnya is impossible," ITAR-TASS reported. "There
are no reasons for a sharp devaluation of the hryvnya
and its rate is under control," AP quoted him as saying.
The hryvnya has been falling steadily since Russia
devalued the ruble two weeks ago. On 28 August the
hryvnya sank to 2.25 to $1, reaching the upper limit of
the formerly set exchange corridor. Yushchenko added
that the confusion in Ukraine's financial market was
bound to stop given the IMF's plans to issue a $2.2
billion loan to the country. IMF Managing Director
Michel Camdessus said in Washington on 28 August that he
will call a meeting of the IMF Executive Board "on short
notice" to consider the loan. JM

UKRAINE PROTESTS LUZHKOV'S 'INTRUSION' INTO INTERNAL
AFFAIRS. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has summoned the
Russian ambassador to Ukraine, Yurii Dubinin, to protest
statements made by Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov on 26
August in Sevastopol, AP reported. Luzhkov, speaking at
the opening of a Russian-language school, accused
Ukrainian authorities of the forced Ukrainization of the
city and its educational system and of attempts to force
the Ukrainian language on ethnic Russian residents.
According to the agency, Luzhkov also told Russian
servicemen in Sevastopol to continue to hope that the
city will return to Russia. "Some statements by Yurii
Luzhkov can be assessed as an intrusion into Ukraine's
internal affairs and disrespect for its sovereignty,"
the ministry said in a statement. JM

LUKASHENKA PROMOTES SLAVIC UNITY AS CURE FOR RUSSIAN
ILLS... Belarus and Ukraine can help Russia overcome its
crisis if the three former Soviet republics draw closer
together, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
told journalists on 28 August, at the end of his three-
day visit to Crimea. "Bringing the three Slavic
countries closer will be a strong factor in stabilizing
the situation not only in Russia, but in Belarus and
Ukraine," Interfax quoted him as saying. Lukashenka said
that the financial collapse in Russia was predictable
and that the Russian government "should have warned
Ukraine and Belarus" of it. In his opinion, the current
situation pushes the three presidents to make "steps
toward each other. The three of us will be to blame if
we fail to use this unique situation," he said. JM

... SAYS IMF NOT UNIVERSAL ANSWER FOR POST-SOVIET
ECONOMIES. After returning to Minsk on 28 August,
Lukashenka told journalists that the IMF's
recommendations "have in no way proven to be a universal
remedy for economic reform," ITAR-TASS reported on 28
August. In his opinion, "[the IMF's recommendations] aim
at disrupting the national economic system of post-
Soviet republics." Lukashenka added that during his
visit to Crimea he met with Russian acting Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin twice but did not meet with
IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus. JM

BELARUS, VIETNAM TO BOOST ECONOMIC TIES. Lukashenka met
on 29 August with Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong,
who is on a three-day official visit to Belarus, ITAR-
TASS reported. The Belarusian president said after the
meeting that Belarus and Vietnam intend to increase the
mutual trade turnover by 1000 percent by 2000, to some
$200 million annually. Lukashenka added that Vietnam
"may become a bridge for promoting Belarus on markets of
the Asian and Pacific region, while Belarus may become a
bridge for promoting Vietnam's interests in Europe." He
stressed that both Belarus and Vietnam pursue "similar"
domestic and foreign policies. JM

RUSSIAN RADAR SITE IN LATVIA SHUT DOWN. In conformity
with a 1994 agreement and despite suggestions that
Moscow would continue its operation, the Russian
authorities turned off the Skrunda radar site in Latvia
on 31 August, BNS reported. Skrunda was the last Russian
military outpost in the Baltic countries. Russian
officials have 18 months to dismantle and remove
equipment from the site. Moscow paid $5 million per year
to rent the site at which 400 Russians had been working
since 1994. PG

JOINT BALTIC NAVAL SQUADRON INAUGURATED. In ceremonies
in Tallinn on 28 August, representatives of the three
Baltic countries established a joint naval squadron to
be known as BALTRON, BNS reported. Consisting of two
mine-sweepers each from Estonia and Latvia and a
Lithuanian logistics ship, the unit will participate in
its first exercise in September. Based in Estonia's Mine
Harbor, the unit will be commanded this year and in 1999
by Latvian Naval Captain Ilmars Lesinskis. PG

BALTIC GOVERNMENTS DIVERGE ON RUSSIAN CRISIS. As the
Russian economic crisis deepened, the three Baltic
governments adopted increasingly different public
positions. An Estonian foreign ministry deputy
secretary, Clyde Kull, said on 29 August that Moscow
might launch a propaganda attack against the Baltic
states to divert attention from its domestic problems,
BNS reported. A day earlier, Latvian Prime Minister
Guntars Krasts said that the Russian crisis would harm
some Latvian banks but not the banking system, a
prediction apparently born out when one Latvian bank was
forced to close and other banks in that country
experienced a run by depositors. Meanwhile, also on 28
August, Lithuanian State Security Department Director
Mecys Laurinkus met with President Valdas Adamkus to
discuss the crisis, BNS reported. Laurinkus said that
Lithuania is well-placed to weather the current
difficulties. PG

RADICAL CATHOLICS EXACERBATE AUSCHWITZ CROSSES
CONTROVERSY. Polish radical Catholics placed two more
crosses at the former Auschwitz concentration camp and
held mass at the site on 30 August in defiance of church
leaders, Polish media reported. The mass was organized
by a priest from the Society of St. Pius X, a splinter
Roman Catholic order which does not recognize the
reforms introduced by the Second Vatican Council in
1962-65. German priest Karl Stehlin held the service in
Latin and criticized in Polish the official position of
Polish bishops on the Auschwitz crosses dispute. The
same day the bishop's statement condemning the erection
of new crosses at Auschwitz was read in all churches in
Poland. Both the government and the Catholic Church
admit that more than 150 crosses planted recently around
the papal cross should be removed from the camp site. JM

CZECH PRESIDENT SUPPORTS RFE/RL BROADCASTS TO IRAN,
IRAQ. Vaclav Havel, speaking on Czech radio in his
weekly program on 29 August, said that he supported
RFE/RL's plan to start broadcasts to Iran and Iraq.
Havel said that the Czech Republic went to great lengths
to get RFE/RL to move to Prague. This, he said, also
means that "we have delegated certain decision-making
powers and Radio Free Europe in fact decides itself in
what languages it broadcasts. This means, to put it
formally, [that] the station must not consult anyone at
all." Jan Ruml, leader of the opposition Freedom Union,
said on 30 August that since the Czech Republic allowed
RFE/RL to relocate on its territory, it cannot stop it
from broadcasting to Iran or Iraq, since RFE/RL is a
private institution and no government can decide on its
broadcasts, CTK reported. MS

HAVEL LEAVES HOSPITAL. Havel on 28 August was released
from the hospital, where he underwent surgery on 26
July. Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek said Havel
will now rest in the presidential residence at Lany,
near Prague, and prepare for his official visit to the
U.S., set for 14-19 September. In other news, the
British government has contacted Czech and Slovak
officials after some 600 Roma from the two countries
requested asylum in the United Kingdom in August, TASR
reported on 29 August. The applicants say they are
victims of attacks by skinheads. MS

MECIAR SAYS SLOVAKIA'S ENERGY FUTURE BASED ON NUCLEAR
POWER. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 28 August said
that Slovakia wishes to be self-sufficient in energy and
that this means it will have to rely on nuclear power by
2003. Meciar said water and coal resources are
insufficient, and stressed that 59 percent of the
electricity supplied by the Slovak national power
company is already produced by nuclear plants. Earlier
on 28 August Meciar attended the official start-up of
the first reactor at Slovakia's controversial Mochovce
nuclear power plant. He said that the second reactor
will be launched within a year. MS

HUNGARY SLOWS FORINT DEVALUATION RATE. In agreement with
the National Bank, the Hungarian government decided on
29 August to cut the monthly rate of the national
currency's crawling-peg devaluation from 0.8 percent to
0.7 percent as of 1 October, Hungarian media reported.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the move is expected to
reduce inflation and improve the current balance of
payments. "Although the Russian economic crisis has
painfully hit the Budapest Stock Exchange, its effects
on the Hungarian economy do not necessitate exchange-
rate policy measures," he said. MSZ

PINPOINT, POSTABANK DENY ILLEGAL COLLECTION OF DATA IN
HUNGARY. Former Postabank President Gabor Princz firmly
denied charges that he or his bank had illegally
collected information on leaders of the Federation of
Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ-MPP) (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 28 August 1998), Hungarian media
reported on 31 August. The former executive manager of
Pinpoint Ltd., Gyorgy Meth, called allegations that his
firm carried out illegal surveillance of FIDESZ-MPP
politicians "false assertions." Meanwhile,
"Nepszabadsag" reported that it received an envelope,
allegedly from the Swedish Embassy, containing the
complete documentation of the secret investigation.
According to the documents, the investigation was based
exclusively on company registers and not on secret or
illegal sources. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVARS CALL FOR INVESTIGATION OF CREMATORY CHARGE. The
Serbian Interior Ministry said in a statement in
Belgrade on 29 August that members of special police
forces found a crematory two days earlier in the village
of Klecka near the Prishtina-Prizren road. The text
added that ethnic Albanian "terrorists" had allegedly
killed 22 Serbian civilians in July and cremated their
remains in a limekiln. The statement added that police
found remains of the incinerated bodies nearby. In
Prishtina, the pro-Kosovar Board for the Protection of
Human Rights and Freedoms called for an investigation by
independent forensics experts to determine if the
remains are indeed those of Serbian civilians. Spokesmen
for the Board hinted that the Serbian police may have
planted the alleged evidence. PM

BELGRADE SEEKS BAN ON UCK. The Serbian government issued
an appeal to the international community on 29 August,
in which it called for the condemnation of the Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) as a terrorist organization. The
statement added that some unnamed governments have taken
a "tolerant attitude" toward the UCK and allow it to
conduct recruitment and other activities on their
territory. The next day, Serbian Justice Minister
Dragoljub Jankovic said in Belgrade that the authorities
have filed charges against more than 300 persons for
"terrorism" this year. In Duha, which is southwest of
Prishtina, police Colonel Bozidar Filic said on 28
August that, for the first time in nearly four months,
Serbian police are in control of the entire Prishtina-
Prizren road. He added that police are now in control of
all major highways in Kosova. PM

GREECE BLOCKS SANCTIONS AGAINST JAT. Greek diplomats
appealed to other EU ambassadors in Brussels last week
to postpone until at least 8 September a decision on
whether to deny landing rights to Yugoslav state
airlines (JAT), the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung"
reported on 29 August. EU diplomats agreed in June to
seek a ban on landing rights for JAT in response to the
Serbian crackdown in Kosova. JAT has since threatened to
bar EU carriers from landing in Serbia in retaliation.
German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel in May expressed
concern that such countermeasures would make it
difficult for Germany to continue deporting refugees
back to Yugoslavia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 May 1998).
PM

ALBRIGHT WARNS CROATIA OVER BOSNIA... U.S. Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright said in Zagreb on 30 August
that the Croats of Bosnia-Herzegovina must be first and
foremost citizens of that country and participate in its
political structures. President Franjo Tudjman replied
that "the main problem between the United States and
Croatia is the problem of Bosnia...Croatia...is obliged
by its constitution to take care of Croats outside the
Republic of Croatia." Albright also said that Croatia
has yet to meet "European standards" in democratization,
minority rights, and independence of the media. To
underscore her concern for democracy in Croatia, she met
with the leaders of six major opposition parties. Two
days earlier, representatives of those parties agreed to
prepare joint draft election and media laws, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Zagreb. PM

...AND URGES BOSNIAN SERBS TO BACK DAYTON. Also on 30
August, Albright met with Republika Srpska President
Biljana Plavsic and Prime Minister Milorad Dodik in
Bijeljina and praised the two as a "good ticket"
committed to the Dayton agreement. Albright reminded
Bosnian Serb voters that the international community is
prepared to deliver economic and reconstruction
assistance, but only to those officials who back the
Dayton accords. Her basic message, she added, is that
"Dayton pays." Dodik, however, said that the
international community should grant local authorities
more decision-making powers and cut the size of the
peacekeeping force. Meanwhile, near Mostar the previous
day, some 150 Serbs returned to their former homes in
two villages for the first time in six years. This was
the fourth time in recent weeks that a group of Serbs
went home in that part of Herzegovina, RFE/RL's South
Slavic Service reported. PM

CRITICISM OF PRIVATIZATION IN BOSNIA. A spokesman for
the international community's Carlos Westendorp said in
Sarajevo on 29 August that Muslim and Croatian
authorities are issuing privatization vouchers to former
soldiers in place of back pay for political reasons. He
noted that giving compensation to former soldiers is a
way to "win votes" in the 12-13 September general
elections. Elsewhere in Sarajevo, Turkish Deputy Prime
Minister Bulent Ecevit pledged economic and political
support for Bosnia. He said that a $10 million
reconstruction grant will be paid soon, along with $4
million in assistance for Air Bosna. Ecevit suggested
that the Turkish government might soon decide to admit
Bosnian-built Volkswagens to the Turkish market duty-
free. PM

OSCE, COUNCIL OF EUROPE CALL FOR CALM IN ALBANIA...
Representatives of the OSCE and Council of Europe issued
a joint statement in Tirana on 30 August, in which they
urged Albanian political parties to stop making a
political issue of the recent arrest of six former
government officials on charges of committing crimes
against humanity (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 28 August 1998).
The text read: "we find recent statements and reports
that cast this issue only in political terms to be
counterproductive." The statement also urged all parties
to allow justice to take its course and warned that
politicizing the case risks compromising the ability of
the legal institutions "to implement due process." It
added that "we are very concerned about statements that
contain violent rhetoric and we call upon all parties to
refrain from any statements that may hinder peaceful and
democratic procedures." FS

...WHILE PRIME MINISTER PLEDGES TO INCREASE SECURITY
AHEAD OF DEMONSTRATION. As political tensions mount in
the wake of the arrests, Fatos Nano pledged in Tirana on
29 August to strengthen the police, defense forces, and
the secret service "to show the real force of the state
by applying the law correctly." Former President Sali
Berisha the same day said that Nano has "torn up the
agreement that prevented civil war and [he] will face
all the consequences of [his] unilateral act." Berisha
called on his supporters to turn out for a rally slated
for 31 August. Interior Minister Perikli Teta banned the
demonstration, charging that "criminal elements" were
planning to cause trouble. Six opposition supporters and
six policemen were injured during a banned rally in
Tirana on 27 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 28 August
1998). "Rilindja Demokratike" on 30 August quoted
Berisha as saying that "nobody can stop the protest,"
adding that "the fall of Nano starts tomorrow." FS

GREECE OPENS SECOND CONSULATE IN ALBANIA. Greek Foreign
Minister Theodoros Pangalos and his Albanian counterpart
Paskal Milo opened a Greek consulate in Korca on 30
August. Milo praised the opening as "a major
contribution to the further expansion of [bilateral]
relations." Greece opened its first consulate in
postcommunist Albania in Gjirokastra in 1994. Albania
has a consulate in Ioannina and plans to open one in
Thessaloniki soon. Meanwhile, the Greek consul in
Gjirokastra on 28 August asked police to ensure the
protection of the ethnic Greek community there following
threats by masked gunmen against villagers. FS

ROMANIAN PREMIER CRITICIZES PRIVATIZATION PACE. Radu
Vasile, speaking on Romanian state radio on 29 August,
criticized the slow pace of privatization and said
changes will soon be made in "the second and third
echelons" of the State Property Fund, where some
officials are "blocking privatization." One day earlier,
at a meeting of the leadership of the National Peasant
Party-Christian Democratic (PNTCD), Vasile criticized
the performance of Privatization Minister Sorin
Dimitriu, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The 28
August meeting was "tempestuous," with former Premier
Victor Ciorbea saying the government has met none of its
deadlines. A meeting of the party's leading bodies must
be convened and "fixed deadlines" must be established
for carrying out the reforms, he said. Interior Minister
Gavril Dejeu said he demands that Vasile "state clearly"
if he intends to sack him. MS

MORE ROMANIAN JOURNALISTS SENTENCED. Two Romanian
journalists working for the Botosani "Monitorul"
newspapers were fined 100 million lei ($11,250) after
being convicted of libel, AP reported on 29 August. The
journalists had written that a local politician had
abused his position by quashing court proceedings
against his son, who was accused of demolishing a
building that was listed as a protected historical
monument. This is the third time in recent months that
journalists have been sentenced for libel in Romania. MS

ECUMENICAL GATHERING IN BUCHAREST. Bucharest is hosting
the 12th international ecumenical gathering "People and
Religions," which is being attended by Christian
Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants, as well as by
Muslims, Buddhists, and Jews. The event is sponsored by
the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Italian Catholic
organization Sant Edigio. An interdenominational chapel
was inaugurated on 29 August. Addressing the opening
ceremony on 30 August, President Emil Constantinescu
said he hoped the gathering will pave the way for the
planned Romania visit of Pope John Paul II. He added
that conflicts between the Orthodox Church and the
Uniate Church in Romania "are not grave." MS

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