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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 174 Part II, 9 September 1998


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 174 Part II, 9 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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Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINE CRACKS DOWN ON ORGANIZED CRIME IN CIS

* UN SECRETARY-GENERAL ALARMED BY KOSOVA SITUATION

* ALBANIAN PREMIER READY FOR RECONCILIATION
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE CRACKS DOWN ON ORGANIZED CRIME IN CIS. In a
large-scale operation undertaken in Odessa, the
Ukrainian police and security service have arrested 48
people who had intended to hold a "Mafia conference,"
Ukrainian Television reported on 8 September. Interfax
reported that a total of 109 people were arrested,
including underground leaders from 30 regions of Ukraine
as well as from Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan,
and the Transcaucasus. According to law enforcement
agencies, those arrested had planned to meet in Odessa
on 5 September to redivide spheres of influence and plan
future joint operations. JM

UKRAINE DENIES BANNING ROMANIAN LANGUAGE IN ODESSA
REGION. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has rejected
claims voiced recently in Romanian press that the
Ukrainian authorities have banned the use of Romanian
(called Moldovan in Ukraine) in schools in Odessa
Oblast, dpa reported on 8 September. According to the
ministry, there has been no change in the status of
Romanian schools or in language policies in Ukraine
since 1991. The ministry says that the Romanian claims
are "absolutely groundless" and can be attributed to a
"political and propaganda campaign" launched against
Ukraine in the Romanian press. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF BATTLE OF
ORSHA. Some 1,000 people took part in a rally organized
by the opposition Belarusian Popular Front (BNF) in
Minsk on 8 September to mark the anniversary of
Belarusian troops victory in the battle against Muscovy
near Orsha in 1514, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service
reported. In defiance of the current Minsk authorities,
the Belarusian opposition celebrates the anniversary as
Military Glory Day. BNF Deputy Chairman Yuryy Khadyka,
addressing the rally, appealed to protesters to help
Belarusians understand the true essence of the regime of
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, whom he
called a "mental pensioner." For the first time in two
years, the authorities allowed the opposition to march
along Minsk's main street. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS TO BREAK AWAY FROM
RUSSIA. Zyanon Paznyak, exiled leader of the opposition
BNF, has appealed to Belarusians to "cut themselves off
from the dying Russian empire," Belapan reported on 8
September. In a statement issued for Military Glory Day,
Paznyak called the current economic crisis in Russia
"the beginning of the collapse of the Russian empire."
He warned Belarusians against the "Russian
imperialists," who "desire to quickly annex Belarus"
before their "total financial collapse." Paznyak
denounced the Belarusian government for helping Russia
and appealed to Belarusians to defend their statehood
and independence. JM

ESTONIAN FARMERS RECEIVE FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM
GOVERNMENT. The government on 8 September allocated 2.3
million kroons (some $167,000) to farmers and local
governments in partial compensation for losses incurred
by heavy rains earlier this year, BNS reported.
Agriculture Minister Andres Varik told reporters that
this sum covers 36 percent of the claims submitted to
the government, adding that more money could not be
spared from the reserve fund. The minister also said
that the state should help create a system whereby
farmers can insure themselves against such natural
disasters in the future. JC

LITHUANIA TO PREPARE FOR TRADE LIBERALIZATION WITH
RUSSIA. Lithuania is to push ahead on plans to
liberalize trade with Russia, although the Russian
financial crisis may delay further talks, BNS reported
on 8 September, citing Lithuanian officials. Rimantas
Segzda, an official at the Economy Ministry, told the
news agency that "it is now especially urgent for
Lithuania to ease trade in meat and dairy products,
maybe introducing barter exchanges for Russian crude oil
and natural gas." Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas
Vagnorius is scheduled to visit Moscow this fall to sign
various economic agreements and protocols. Lithuania and
Russia have already signed protocols on mutual
cooperation in the fishing industry, the encouragement
and protection of investments, and avoiding double
taxation. JC

LILEIKIS TRIAL SCHEDULED TO BEGIN. The trial of
suspected World War II criminal Aleksandras Lileikis is
scheduled to begin in Vilnius on 9 September. The 91-
year-old Lileikis, who headed the Vilnius security
police during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania, is
accused of genocide for handing over Jews to Nazi death
squads. In 1996, he was stripped of his U.S. citizenship
for concealing his wartime activities. Lileikis's trial
has repeatedly been postponed owing to his ill health.
Reuters reports that many observers fear his failure to
appear on 9 September could halt the proceedings before
they begin. JC

POLISH OPPOSITION URGES STIFFER PENALTIES FOR CRIMINALS.
Leszek Miller, leader of the opposition left-wing
Democratic Left Alliance, told journalists on 8
September that his party favors stiffer penalties for
brutal murders, assaults on policemen, and killings of
children and teenagers, PAP reported. A campaign for
more severe punishments is also being conducted by
right-wing parties that are not represented in the
parliament. A spokesman for the Fatherland Patriotic
Movement has said some 1,000 "hardened, demoralized
criminals will regain freedom as a result of the new
penal regulations," which took effect last week (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 2 September). The movement demands
that Justice Minister Hanna Suchocka be dismissed.
Suchocka responds that she cannot be held responsible
for a penal code passed by the parliament. JM

GERMAN EXPELLEES BLAST POLAND OVER COMPENSATION REFUSAL.
Erika Steinbach, chairwoman of Germany's Alliance of
Expellees, has fiercely attacked Polish Foreign Minister
Bronislaw Geremek and Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek for
rejecting the alliance's compensation claims (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 1998), PAP reported on 8
September. Steinbach said Geremek's statement that
compensation for the expellees is a matter for the
German government alone shows that "Poland lacks
European maturity." She also blasted Buzek for calling
the alliance an "extremist group." The demand "to heal
wounds is not a demand by extremists," she commented. JM

MECIAR DENIES HUNGARIAN ALLEGATIONS. Slovak Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar on 7 September denied recent
allegations in the Hungarian daily "Magyar Hirlap" that
he sent a "Meciar commando" to Budapest that carried out
the bomb attack on Bratislava businessman Tamas Boros on
2 July. Speaking on private Radio Duha, Meciar called
the allegations a "stupid and primitive lie" and added
he is "not surprised" that such "dirty things" are
possible in Hungary, CTK reported. In other news, former
Slovak President Michal Kovac, in a lecture to the
Batory Foundation in Warsaw on 7 September, said
Meciar's cabinet "distorts the law, violates the
constitution, ignores basic democratic principles,
abuses the secret services, and uses public television
for its ideological interests." MS

SLOVAK JOURNALIST TO LEAVE COUNTRY. Pavol Rusko,
director of TV Markiza, is leaving Slovakia because he
fears he will be arrested there, the Czech daily "Pravo"
reported on 8 September. TV Markiza was taken over in
August by close associates of Counter-Intelligence
Service head Ivan Lexa and Interior Minister Gustav
Krajci. Rusko told the station's staff that the move was
triggered by his refusal of a privatization offer made
two years ago by the government. He said he had turned
down the offer because "it would have meant serving
[Meciar's government]." Rusko said he knows a warrant
for his arrest has been issued under tax fraud
allegations and that "if the current government remains
in power after the elections, I am not sure whether I
would leave jail at all. Accidents occur from time to
time." Interior Ministry spokesman Peter Ondera denied
that a warrant has been issued for Rusko's arrest. MS

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ATTENDS EU TALKS. European
Union Commissioner Hans van den Broek told reporters
after meeting in Brussels with Hungarian Foreign
Minister Janos Martonyi that "there are no obstacles" to
the opening of accession talks between the EU and the
six "fast track" countries on 10 November, Hungarian
media reported on 9 September. Both Martonyi and Van den
Broek said the crisis in Russia will have a limited
impact on Hungary and the EU, as Hungary now is a
"completely European country." MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL ALARMED BY KOSOVA SITUATION. Kofi
Annan on 8 September expressed concern over the lack of
progress in resolving the Kosova crisis and called on
the international community to provide aid to avert a
"major humanitarian disaster," AFP reported. In a
monthly report to the UN Security Council, Annan said he
is "alarmed" by the situation and the "further loss of
life." Annan also said he has sent a letter to Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic protesting the "excessive
use of force" by Serbian forces in Kosova. And he
criticized ethnic Albanian separatists for "acts of
provocation." PB

RUSSIA REPEATS OPPOSITION TO FOREIGN INTERVENTION IN
KOSOVA. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir
Rakhmanin on 8 September said that Moscow is against
possible NATO intervention in Kosova because it would
only exacerbate the humanitarian situation in the
province, Interfax reported. Rakhmanin said this message
was delivered by Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to
Milosevic on 4 September. Rakhmanin said Milosevic
praised Moscow for the role it played "in the settlement
of the Kosova crisis" and said that his government
"guarantees safety for all refugees and displaced
persons returning to their homes." PB

MILOSEVIC TO SANCTION SELF-RULE? The independent daily
"Glas Javnosti" reported on 8 September that Milosevic
has instructed Serbian officials to begin drafting a
plan to hold elections in Kosova. The newspaper said
parliamentary elections would be held in three months
and that the formation of a Kosova parliament could be
the centerpiece of an accord between Belgrade and ethnic
Albanian leaders in Kosova. Adem Demaci, the Kosova
Liberation Army's political representative, said the
proprosed draft of an accord has no guarantees that
Milosevic would abide by the agreement. "Only force can
make [Milosevic] carry out what he promises..., that's
the only language he understands," Demaci said. PB

BOSNIAN SERB HARD-LINER DENOUNCES SRPSKA LEADERS.
Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian
presidency, has accused the leadership of the Republika
Srpska of preventing it from uniting with Serbia,
Reuters reported on 8 September. Krajisnik said that the
goal of the Western-supported Bosnian Serb president,
Biljana Plavsic, is to "destabilize the Serb ethnic
region and weaken our emotional affiliation to
Yugoslavia." Krajisnik is seeking reelection in the 12-
13 September elections. In Yugoslavia, Serbian Radical
Party leader Vojislav Seselj said the Republika Srpska
is under "foreign occupation," and he severely
criticized OSCE mission chief Robert Barry for
prohibiting him from campaigning in Srpska (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 8 September 1998), BETA reported. He called
Plavsic and Bosnian Serb Premier Milorad Dodik
"quislings." PB

BOSNIAN CROAT PARTY WON'T BOYCOTT ELECTIONS. Ante
Jelavic, president of the nationalist Croatian
Democratic Union of Bosnia-Herzegovina (HDZ BiH), said
on 8 September that his party will participate in the
September elections, HINA reported. The HDZ BiH said it
was considering a boycott after the OSCE banned 15 of
its candidates for violating election regulations.
Meanwhile, the OSCE said that Croatian television
programs are now abiding by election regulations on
media coverage of the Bosnian elections (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 7 September 1998). PB

U.S. OFFICIAL VOWS SUPPORT FOR MONTENEGRO. U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck said on 8
September in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica that
Washington supports democratization in Montenegro, AFP
reported. Shattuck held talks with President Milo
Djukanovic and Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic about the
influx of refugees from Kosova. Montenegro Deputy
Premier Dragisa Burzan said on 6 September that some
40,000 people from Kosova have fled to Montenegro and
that the small republic does not have the resources to
cope with the refugees. Germany pledged $4.3 million to
Montenegro the next day to help provide for the
refugees. PB

NATO GENERAL IN LJUBLJANA. NATO's Supreme Commander in
Europe, U.S. General Wesley Clark, met with Slovenian
officials in Ljubljana on 7-8 September, AP reported.
Clark discussed plans for NATO expansion and the
situation in Kosova with President Milan Kucan, Defense
Minister Alojz Krapez, and the chief of staff of the
Slovenian army, General Iztok Podbregar. Podbregar told
Clark that NATO membership is Slovenia's "strategic
aim." Slovenia is a member of NATO's Partnership for
Peace program. PB

CORRECTION: In the 8 September issue of "RFE/RL
Newsline," the U.S. ambassador to Croatia should have
been identified as William Dale Montgomery.

ALBANIAN PREMIER READY FOR RECONCILIATION. Fatos Nano on
8 September said that he is willing to halt the
prosecution of officials appointed by former President
Sali Berisha, Reuters reported. Nano said in a speech to
the parliament that he will support "initiatives which,
without paralyzing and demotivating justice, bring to a
formal end punishment of a political nature and aspire
towards...national reconciliation." Six Berisha-era
officials have been detained and accused of crimes
against humanity for their roles in last year's unrest.
Berisha has led demonstrations in Tirana to protest
their arrest and vows to continue such protests until
Nano steps down. PB

ROMANIAN COALITION LEADERS FAIL TO COMPROMISE ON
HUNGARIAN UNIVERSITY. The leaders of the ruling
coalition parties have failed to reach an agreement that
would satisfy the Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania (UDMR)'s demands for university-level
instruction in the Hungarian language, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported on 8 September. They will meet
again on 14 September to discuss the issue. Prime
Minister Radu Vasile commented that he is "confident" a
compromise solution can be reached. UDMR chairman Marko
Bela said his party demands that the Chamber of
Deputies' Education Commission change the wording of the
provision prohibiting instruction in national minority
languages at university level. Observers say this may be
a hint that the UDMR is now ready to settle for the
amendment passed last year by the Senate allowing
private universities that teach in national minority
languages and "multicultural" universities. MS

ROMANIAN TABLOID DEPLORES 'LACK OF CYCLONE-B'. In its 7
September issue, the tabloid "Atac la persoana" said
there are too many "potential soap [people] from Tel
Aviv" on Bucharest's streets. It deplored the fact that
owing to its present economic "penury," Romania does not
have "sufficient barbed wire and Cyclone-B gas" to
provide a solution to this problem. The prominent
columnist Cornel Nistorescu, in an editorial in
"Evenimentul zilei" on 9 September, called upon the
authorities to sanction the tabloid in line with
existing legislation. MS

SMIRNOV ON TRANSDNIESTER ARMY. The leader of the
separatist region, Igor Smirnov, says the Transdniester
has "sufficient military equipment," which is
"domestically produced," and that its military forces
are "consistently improving their training [methods]."
Smirnov, whose speech marked the seventh anniversary of
the separatist military forces, said the main objective
of the Transdniester army is to defend "the state and
the citizens' lawful interests," RFE/RL's Chisinau
bureau reported on 8 September. Transdniester media,
citing military sources in Tiraspol, say the
Transdniester army has 10,000 troops, of whom some 20
percent are retired Russian military and 10 percent new
recruits. MS

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ON INTER-ETHNIC TENSION. Responding
to the removal of ethnic Turkish commemorative plaques
in a village in southeastern Bulgaria, Petar Stoyanov on
7 September said he will "do his best to prevent any
further exploitation of inter-ethnic relations in
Bulgaria for cheap political dividends." Stoyanov said
he is "convinced that neither Hasan not Ivan, who are
now harvesting, are likely to become hostages to an
artificially sought and inspired conflict" (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 7 September 1998), BTA reported. MS

BULGARIA, ROMANIA, GREECE AGREE TO COMBAT CRIME
TOGETHER. Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece have signed an
agreement aimed at coordinating the struggle against
organized crime. Meeting in Sofia on 8 September, the
interior ministers of the three countries pledged to
exchange information and launch concerted actions
against drug and weapons smuggling, illegal immigration
rackets, money laundering, and illegal financial
operations, AP reported. MS

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