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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 171 Part II, 4 September 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 171 Part II, 4 September 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: HOW RUSSIA IS RULED--1998
As the string of crises continue in Russia, the question
remains: Who is in charge? This in-depth report analyzes
the country's power structure.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/ruwhorules/index.html
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Headlines, Part II
* CURRENCY DEALERS SAY STABILIZATION OF HRYVNYA
PROBLEMATIC
* SERBS POUND VILLAGES NEAR PRIZREN
* NATO TO WORK WITH SERBIAN SECURITY FORCES?

End Note: ALBANIAN OPPOSITION ON COLLISION COURSE WITH
GOVERNMENT
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE
CHIRAC SUPPORTS IMF LOAN TO UKRAINE. French President Jacques Chirac said on
3 September that France fully supports extending a much-awaited IMF loan to
Ukraine.
On the second day of his official visit to Kyiv Chirac
spoke with IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus by
telephone and said that the IMF's decision on its credit
program to Ukraine is a "question of days." Chirac also
promised French investments in Ukraine if  Kyiv
continues to implement reforms. The two sides signed
four agreements on the peaceful use of nuclear energy,
nuclear safety, energy cooperation, and cooperation
between Ukrainian and French law enforcement bodies. JM
CURRENCY DEALERS SAY STABILIZATION OF HRYVNYA
PROBLEMATIC. The Ukrainian National Bank will find it
difficult to stabilize the national currency, Ukrainian
News reported on 3 September. According to  Ukrainian
currency dealers, the depletion of the bank's hard-
currency reserves may force it to cease supporting the
hryvnya. "The National Bank currently sells $20-40
million per day. At this rate, its reserves will dry up
within one month," Oleksandr Prokopenko from Privatbank
said. Dmytro Fedotov from Ukrsibbank said that even the
$200-250 million that is expected in the first tranche
of the IMF's $2.2 billion loan to Ukraine may not be
sufficient to stabilize the hryvnya. In his opinion,
only the approval of a $400 million loan by the World
Bank this year could help stabilize the country's
currency. JM
BELARUSIAN LAWMAKERS WANT DIRECT ELECTIONS TO RUSSIAN-
BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT. Deputies of the Belarusian
Chamber of Representatives have appealed to Russian and
Belarusian citizens to unite efforts in order to
overcome the current crisis, Belapan reported on 3
September. The Belarusian lawmakers propose that both
countries' parliaments urgently consider bills on
introducing a single Belarusian-Russian citizenship and
on direct elections to a joint parliament. The appeal
states that the "economic, political, and moral model of
building the current Russian society [according to the
dictates of] international and regional financial-
oligarchic groups...has totally collapsed. At the same
time, the independent and patriotic policy conducted in
Belarus under the leadership of President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka convincingly proves [that policy's] viability
and efficiency." JM
LUKASHENKA CALLS RUSSIAN CRISIS 'POLITICAL HYSTERIA.'
Belarusian President Lukashenka has described the
current crisis in Russia as "nothing more than political
hysteria," Interfax reported on 3 September. "The
situation in Russia is worrying me a great deal. I'm
afraid this crash will affect Belarus," the agency
quoted him as saying on a tour of collective farms in
Mahilyou Oblast. Lukashenka added that he sees no desire
in Russia to deal with the crisis. In his opinion, the
current developments in Russia show that "election
campaigns for the parliament and in effect for the
president have started." JM
BELARUS HIT BY 'CREDIT BLOCKADE.' Belarusian Economy
Minister Uladzimir Shymau has admitted that Belarus
needs considerable foreign investments to integrate its
economy into the world economy, Belapan reported on 3
September. Shymau praised the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development for its "quite pragmatic
policy" of continuing financial projects in Belarus. He
added that Belarus hopes to "prolong a dialog" with the
IMF and the World Bank, which have recalled their
permanent representatives from Minsk (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 15 April and 28 August 1998). Deputy Economy
Minister Valeriy Drozd said Belarus received $60.8
million in foreign credits in 1998, which is "only 18
percent of the sum planned for this year. We are under a
credit blockade by international financial
organizations," he commented. JM

ESTONIA, NOT LATVIA, ORIGINAL TARGET OF RUSSIAN ECONOMIC
MEASURES? Anatolii Chekhoev, chairman of the Russian
State Duma's CIS affairs committee, has said that the
parliament originally intended to introduce economic
measures against Estonia, rather than Latvia, BNS
reported on 3 September. Chekhoev explained that a
project to that effect was drawn up last year. After "an
anti-Baltic campaign" was launched in Russia in February
and March, the project was "slightly modified" and
directed against Latvia, he added. Chekhoev said that a
bill providing for sanctions against Latvia has been
revised by the government since April and is due to
undergo its first reading later this month The aim of
the sanctions, he stressed, is to force Latvia to halt
alleged discrimination against its Russian-speaking
population. JC
ESTONIAN PRESS SPECULATES ON ILVES'S POSSIBLE
RESIGNATION. "Postimees" says that Foreign Minister
Toomas Hendrik Ilves is likely to resign next week and
start preparing for the March 1999 parliamentary
elections as leader of the People's Party, ETA reported
on 3 September. The daily argues that the party is
forcing its chairman to resign from the foreign affairs
portfolio so that it can distance itself from Mart
Siimann's cabinet. "Sonumileht," on the other hand, says
that Ilves's resignation is not so imminent. Maris
Lillak, counselor to the foreign minister, said Ilves
"may leave the cabinet before the elections and it may
happen as early as September." JC
POLISH FARMERS CONCERNED ABOUT INCREASED PORK IMPORTS.
Polish farmers are concerned about recent increases in
imports of pork from the EU, "Zycie" reported on 4
September. According to official data, Poland imported
7,254 tons of pork from the EU in July, approximately
the same amount as in the first six months of 1998. EU-
produced pork is some 20 percent cheaper that its Polish
counterpart. Most meat processing plants in Poland have
stopped buying pigs from Polish farmers and have lowered
prices for raw domestic meat. The situation on the
Polish meat market is aggravated by Russia's financial
collapse, which has put a brake on most exports from
Poland to that country. Roman Wierzbicki, leader of the
Farmers' Solidarity Trade Union, said his organization
will demand that the government introduce higher prices
for domestic producers and import quotas on EU meat. JM
CZECH EXTREMIST PARTY OWES BACK TAXES. The Republican
Party owes 23.8 million crowns ($767,740) in back taxes,
"Mlada Fronta Dnes" reported on 3 September. The daily
said tax authorities have opened an investigation into
the party's finances. As a result the extremist
formation, which has accused the previous  government of
fraud and embezzlement, will no longer be eligible to
receive 21 million crowns ($677,400) in state subsidies,
which are allocated to political parties that gain more
than 3 percent of the vote. The daily also said that
Republican Party leader Miroslav Sladek is suspected of
having used most of his party's 1996 state subsidy for
personal purposes, AP reported. MS
FORMER CZECH TENNIS STAR ACCUSED OF FINANCIAL FRAUD.  Milan Srejber is
suspected of abusing inside information and illegally transferring 14
million crowns ($ 450,000) to one of his companies from a privatization fund
that he administered in 1995-1996, AP reported on 3 September. Srejber
denies the accusation.  If charged and convicted, Srejber could face up to
12 years in jail. In November 1997, Srejber triggered the collapse of former
Premier Vaclav Klaus's cabinet when he admitted to having secretly donated
7.5 million crowns to Klaus's  ruling Civic Democratic Party after acquiring
a large stake in a privatized steel concern.
MS
'ACTING' CHIEF OF STAFF APPOINTED IN SLOVAKIA... Defense Ministry spokesman
Frantisek Kasicky, in a 2 September interview with RFE/RL, announced the
appointment of Major-General Julius Humaj as acting chief of staff.
Kasicky said Marian Miklus, who was appointed chief of
staff by parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic against
the recommendation of the Defense Ministry, will be
permitted to take over from the former chief of staff,
General Josef Tuchyna, only after the parliamentary
elections scheduled for 25-26 September. Tuchyna, who
resigned to run for the parliament on the list of the
opposition Party of the Democratic Left, later withdrew
his resignation, saying the appointment of Miklus was a
breach of the law. MS
...AS ALLEGATIONS EMERGE OF  CORRUPTION IN MILITARY. The
head of the Association of Slovak Soldiers, Colonel
Peter Svec, said Miklus and Defense Ministry secretary
Jozef Gajdos (a member of Vladimir Meciar's Movement for
a Democratic Slovakia), are guilty of corruption in a
deal involving the repayment of  Russian debts to
Slovakia with the delivery of military equipment. In
response to the accusations, Kasicky said that reporters
should speak to Gajdos, whom the government has put in
charge of deblocking the debt by importing from Russia
MiG-29 fighter planes and the S-300 anti-aircraft
defense system. On 3 September, government spokesman
Marian Kardos confirmed that at a meeting of the cabinet
one day earlier, Defense Minister Jan Sitek of the
junior coalition partner Slovak National Party demanded
Gajdos's resignation. Kardos said the demand was
rejected on the grounds that Gajdos's appointment was a
political one by Meciar's party. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
SERBS POUND VILLAGES NEAR PRIZREN. Serbian forces continued to shell ethnic
Albanian villages near Prizren, in southwest Kosova, on 3 September (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 1 September 1998), Reuters reported.  The firing could be
heard in Prizren, and several of the villages were "totally destroyed,"
Kosovar sources added.  Serbian sources said that 20 members of the
paramilitary police died in the fighting, while Kosovar sources put the
total at seven. The Serbian sources added that the police found a "modern
battlefield clinic" for treating wounded guerrillas in one village.
Police barred journalists from leaving Prizren for the
surrounding countryside to investigate conflicting
reports on the fighting. A policeman at a checkpoint
told the journalists: "We have some business there and
it is not safe to go." An RFE/RL correspondent reported
from Prishtina that there was also fighting along the
Gjakova-Klina road in an area crowded with refugees. PM
ALBRIGHT, SCHUESSEL GUARDEDLY OPTIMISTIC ON AUTONOMY DEAL. U.S. Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright said in Vienna on 3 September that the recent
tentative agreement between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and
Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova is a "good procedural step
forward" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 1998). She added that
"obviously there is a long way to go" until the two sides reach a
settlement, and "we have also said that if force is necessary, the nations
that agree [to that step] must be ready to act." Austrian Foreign Minister
Wolfgang Schuessel, who is the current EU chair, spoke cautiously about the
tentative agreement: "I don't think that the solution is there....
It is a small hope  but it is part of a diplomatic
process." PM

NATO TO WORK WITH SERBIAN SECURITY FORCES? "The Guardian" reports from
Brussels on 4 September that NATO has agreed to offer logistical support for
international relief efforts in Kosova that will depend on cooperation with
Serbian forces (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September 1998). The London-based
daily added: "In effect, the proposal makes NATO a partner in the Serbian
scheme for four humanitarian aid centers...to be run by non-governmental
organizations and the [UN] and to be provided with 'security' by Serb
troops." Former U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State Morton Abramowitz, who is a
spokesman for the non-governmental International Crisis
Group, said that "it's crazy to think that Kosovar women
and children will put themselves under the protection of
Serbian forces who have been shooting their husbands and
fathers." The daily added that some "NATO planners...are
privately frustrated at the refusal of NATO governments
to take a decision to stop Serb aggression." PM
ALBANIA REPORTS 41 INCIDENTS AT KOSOVA BORDER WITHIN SIX
MONTHS. Interior Ministry spokesman Artan Bizhga told
Reuters in Tirana on 3 September that federal Yugoslav
forces have committed 41 border violations from the
Kosova side of the border since March. The incidents
include the firing of shells into Albania, sniping by
soldiers and civilians, violations of Albanian airspace
by helicopters, and the entering of Albania by ground
forces. Bizhga stressed that Albanian officials have
repeatedly called meetings of the joint border
commission but that  the Yugoslav representatives often
failed to attend. The previous day, NATO Secretary-
General Javier Solana reassured Prime Minister Fatos
Nano by telephone from Brussels that "NATO continues to
be politically committed to helping Albania develop
normally as a factor of stability in the region." FS
SESELJ AGAINST INTERNATIONAL ROLE IN INVESTIGATING WAR
CRIMES. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj
said in Belgrade on 3 September that the question of
investigating atrocities is not the business of
international organizations. He added that "only state
organs" have the right to carry out such missions,
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Meanwhile in
Washington, a State Department spokesman said in a
statement that Assistant Secretary of State John
Shattuck, who is Washington's top human rights envoy,
and former Senator Bob Dole, who chairs the
International Commission on Missing Persons, will arrive
in Kosova on 4 September to investigate "credible
reports of serious violations of human rights and
humanitarian law." PM
NO ELECTION DEBATE FOR IZETBEGOVIC. A spokesman for the Party of Democratic
Action (SDA) said in Sarajevo on 3 September that Alija Izetbegovic, who is
the Muslim member of the Bosnian joint presidency, will not take part in any
debates in the run-up to the 12-13 September general elections. The
spokesman added that Izetbegovic will give interviews in the course of the
next week to RFE/RL's South Slavic Service and to one other station.  The
president feels that his views are well enough known that he does not need
to engage in additional public discussions, the spokesman concluded.
"Oslobodjenje" reported that plans for a televised debate of Muslim
candidates on 3 September collapsed because Izetbegovic and a minor
candidate refused to take part and because Fikret Abdic, the king-pin of the
Bihac pocket region, did not confirm on time that he would participate.
Muhamed Filipovic of the Liberal Bosnjak Organization
said that Izetbegovic's refusal is an admission of
weakness. PM
ZUBAK URGES TOUGHNESS WITH NATIONALISTS. Kresimir Zubak,
who is the Croatian member of the joint presidency and
who has broken with his nationalist former allies,  said
in Sarajevo on 3 September that the international
community has not done enough to "help create a level
playing field" for the non-nationalist candidates,
Reuters reported. He charged that his Croatian
nationalist opponents tear up his posters, try to beat
up or intimidate his supporters, and  attempt to break
up his rallies. He also blasted Croatian Television for
its "quite unbelievable coverage" of his New Croatian
Initiative. PM
AGREEMENT ON PLOCE, NEUM IN THE OFFING? Jacques Klein,
who is a deputy of the international community's Carlos
Westendorp, said in Dubrovnik on 3 September that
Bosnian and Croatian delegations agreed on a framework
in which to solve a key problem that has bedeviled their
relations since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. He
said that talks aimed at working out the details will
take place in Sarajevo the following day. At issue are
how to give Bosnia access to the Adriatic through
Croatia's port at Ploce and how to provide Croatia with
transit rights through Neum, which is a tiny Bosnian
fishing village on the Adriatic. Meanwhile in Zagreb, a
county court indicted Neven Barac, the former head of
the Dubrovacka Banka, in conjunction with his role in
Croatia's biggest-ever banking scandal. PM
SOUTHERN ALBANIAN GUNMEN 'DISAPPEAR.' Gunmen who injured eight policemen in
the southern village of Lazarat on 2 September had "disappeared"  by the
following day, police spokesmen said (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 September
1998).  Local residents told Reuters that the gunmen had withdrawn into the
mountains. Police declined to say if they plan a search operation. The
village itself appears to be "back to normal," and traffic on Albania's main
north-south road has resumed. Edmond Stepa, who is  nearby Gjirokastra's
police chief, said that police have made no arrests. Elsewhere, police in
Lezha arrested two Democratic Party members on 3 September on suspicion of
having planted a bomb at the local Socialist Party headquarters the previous
night.
FS
ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTY TO LEAVE ROMANIAN COALITION?  Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania (UDMR) chairman Bela Marko told journalists on 3
September that the UDMR demands from its  ruling coalition partners "a
clear-cut answer" on their commitment to cooperation with the UDMR and to
minority rights.  Responding to the vote by the Chamber of Deputies'
Education Commission the previous day, Marko said that not only opposition
members but also members of the ruling coalition, including Education
Minister Andrei Marga, are responsible for "anti-minority instigations." He
said that "from now on," the UDMR will act "in conformity with our own
program and the interests of our electors."
UDMR deputies boycotted debates in the Chamber of
Deputies on 3 September, and Marko said the party's
ministers will vote against envisaged budget cuts,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS
MODERATE UDMR LEADER PLEDGES TO RESIGN. Gyorgy Tokay, who as head of the
Department for National Minorities has ministerial rank, said on 3 September
that  he will resign from the cabinet if a Hungarian-language state
university is not set up. Tokay is considered to be the most prominent
leader of the UDMR's "moderate faction."
But the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies' Education
Commission, Anghel Stanciu, said in a letter to Tokay
the same day that the government commission studying
ways to set up such a university must be disbanded in
the wake of the vote by the Education Commission. The
ruling coalition party leaders are meeting with
President Emil Constantinescu on 4 September, and the
UDMR's complaints are on the meeting's agenda. MS
MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES DRAFT LAWS ON LOCAL
ADMINISTRATION. The cabinet on 2 September approved  two
draft laws providing for a reform of the country's local
administration. The laws stipulate that the number of
districts will be reduced to 9 from the present 36 and
that local administration staff will be cut by some 20-
30 percent, saving some 12 million lei ($2.5 million),
Infotag reported on 2 September. The drafts  make no
reference to the Transdniester, but the agency says  it
is assumed that if the separatist region has an
autonomous status, Tiraspol and Bendery-Tighina will
have the status of a municipality.  Last year, the
parliament refused to approve earlier versions of the
drafts and returned them to the government for
"improvement." MS
END NOTE
ALBANIAN OPPOSITION ON COLLISION COURSE WITH GOVERNMENT
By Fabian Schmidt
Just one year or so after taking office, Albania's Socialist-dominated
government is facing a strong challenge from the opposition Democratic
Party. Former President and opposition leader Sali Berisha has made it clear
recently that he wants to bring down the government, calling it "communist"
and accusing Prime Minister Fatos Nano of politically persecuting the
Democrats. This development follows on the heels of the arrest last month of
six former high-ranking officials, including three members of Berisha's
government.
Prosecutor-General Arben Rakipi has charged those six officials with crimes
against humanity during last year's widespread unrest, which began in
southern Albania and led to the fall of Berisha's government. He says he has
documents signed by the defendants that prove they ordered the use of
chemical weapons and air attacks against rebellious civilians in the south.
Berisha, however, accused Nano of having fabricated the charges and of being
behind the arrests. Nano, for his part, claims he learned about the arrests
only after they had taken place.
This latest conflict sheds light on the most problematic aspect of Albania's
transformation into a state based on the rule of law, namely the
politicization of state institutions, particularly the judiciary. Few
Albanians trust the country's justice system, which is considered corrupt
and politically biased. A recent survey conducted by the World Bank
indicates that many judges, prosecutors, and lawyers are more than willing
to accept bribes.
The Socialists and its coalition allies have repeatedly accused Berisha of
not having respected the independence of the judiciary when he was in
office.  Therefore, they made reform of the judiciary one of their
priorities after winning the elections in July 1997. That reform also meant
the sacking of several appointees of Berisha's administration, including
those whose professional credentials were questionable, having completed
only crash courses organized by Berisha's government with the aim of quickly
training post-communist judges and lawyers. Nonetheless, many employees of
the current judiciary are former communist-era officials, and the Democrats
accuse the Socialists of returning former communists to key positions.
At the same time, the current government will most likely allow the trial
against the six former officials to proceed. Any government attempt to have
the charges thrown out would doubtless be interpreted as a sign of weakness
by the opposition. And such an attempt would also undermine the independence
of the judiciary, which the government has pledged to respect, and provide
proof that the cabinet is indeed willing and able to interfere with the work
of the courts.
The conflict also shows that the Democrats have not yet fully accepted the
role of an opposition party respecting a democratic parliamentary system.
Since losing power, they have repeatedly boycotted the legislature, as did
the Socialists under the previous, Democratic-led government. Even though
the Council of Europe and the OSCE have urged the Democrats to take their
parliamentary duties seriously, they have not halted their boycotts.
Instead, they have  tried in vain to blackmail the government into accepting
political compromises over various issues,  using their presence at, or
absence from, the legislature as a political lever.
In a bid to get the Democrats back to the parliament,  OSCE representatives
in Tirana have offered to mediate between the government and the opposition
and have begun regularly observing parliamentary proceedings. Now the OSCE
has also pledged to monitor the trial of the six former officials in order
to convince the Democrats that the proceeding will be fair and free from
political interference.
But the Democrats are unlikely to accept that offer and return to the
parliament once and for all. Rather, their strategy seems to be one of
confrontation. Berisha called on his supporters last month "to use all
means" to overthrow the government. Since then, he has organized two
demonstrations, despite a police ban, and intends to continue to hold
demonstrations until the government steps down.
Berisha's strategy of destabilization seems calculated to make the conflict
in neighboring Kosova work in his favor. He has repeatedly accused the
government of high treason, pointing to its moderate Kosova policy, which
does not openly advocate independence for the region. And he is fully aware
that because of that policy, most Kosovars and many northern Albanians do
not trust Nano's government.
Moreover, Berisha is trying to profit politically from still widespread
lawlessness.  Earlier this week, his party issued a statement claiming that
a police operation against armed robbers from the Democrats' southern
stronghold of Lazarat constituted "communist-style persecution" of the
villagers. The robbers, for their part, had stopped and looted 18 trucks on
the country's main north-south road.
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