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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 181, Part II, 18 September 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 181, Part II, 18 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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SLOVAK SERVICE NEWS ONLINE
Thousands are protesting staff firings at an independent TV
station as elections approach. News texts in Slovak and all
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Headlines, Part II

* UKRAINIAN POLICE ARREST PROMINENT OPPOSITIONIST

* ALBANIAN PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL OFFICIALS CALL FOR CALM

* RUGOVA FINDS INTERIM AUTONOMY ACCORD UNACCEPTABLE

End Note: TIGHTENING OF EASTERN BORDERS GIVES KYIV WESTERN
CONTACTS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN POLICE ARREST PROMINENT OPPOSITIONIST. The
Ukrainian police have arrested Mykola Syvulskyy, a senior
official in the opposition party Hromada's shadow cabinet, on
charges of embezzlement and tax evasion, Ukrainian Television
and AP reported on 17 September. Syvulskyy, former deputy
head of the National Bank and former deputy finance minister,
is suspected of transferring more than $5 million from the
Ukrhazprom state gas company to Unified Energy System, a
private gas company. According to AP, Syvulskyy's arrest is
the "latest chapter in an investigation" launched by state
prosecutors against former Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko,
leader of the influential Hromada party. Lazarenko's
opponents accuse him of abusing his authority and reaping
huge profits when he was premier in 1996-1997. JM

KUCHMA SAYS HE WILL NOT SIGN 'POPULIST BUDGET.' Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma said on 17 September that he will
"never sign a populist budget," Ukrainian Television
reported. In his opinion, the budget must be realistic with
regards to both revenues and expenditures. Kuchma added that
he is "not quite satisfied" with the government's performance
during the current crisis. According to him, the government
lacks highly qualified professionals, particularly in
economics. JM

RUSSIAN BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDER ACCUSES SEVASTOPOL OF
'ABUSIVE ACTIONS.' Vice Admiral Vladimir Komoedov, commander
of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, has sent an open letter to
the Sevastopol city administration accusing it of "abusive
actions" against Russian sailors, ITAR-TASS reported on 17
September. Komoedov said that those sailors are discriminated
against by the city authorities, which have deprived them of
the right to use the city transportation free of charge. He
also points to increased pressure on the fleet to pay taxes
and threats to confiscate property and cut off water and
electricity supplies unless the fleet pay its debts. JM

BELARUS OFFERS HELPING HAND TO RUSSIA. Belarusian Foreign
Minister Ivan Antanovich on 17 September said Belarus has
"programs" that may be needed by Russia during its current
crisis, Belapan reported. "We have experience, we can share
it," he was quoted as saying. He added that Belarus is taking
measures to intensify integration processes and political
consultations with Russia, adding that the Belarusian Foreign
Ministry sees the "current integration wave" to be of "utmost
and priority" importance. In his opinion, the West is
disseminating "powerful, destructive propaganda" against
Russia and attempting to isolate that country, as it has done
with Belarus. And he commented that the Russian crisis has
culminated in a "collapse of Russia's development based on
Western models that were implemented by Chicago boys." He
declined, however, to offer any names. JM

GERMANY, FRANCE TO EXAMINE NEW DIPLOMATIC RESIDENCES IN
MINSK. Also on 17 September, Antanovich told journalists that
Germany and France have sent their "technical teams" to
examine Belarus's proposed new housing for diplomats
following their eviction from the Drazdy residential compound
in June, Belapan reported. Antanovich stressed that there
will be "no return to the past" since the Drazdy compound is
now the official residence of the Belarusian president. He
said Belarus demands that foreign ambassadors respect this
decision. He also commented foreign diplomat's property left
at Drazdy remains untouched. Some ambassadors have requested
that "they be allowed to spend at least one night in Drazdy
in order to save face," Interfax quoted Antanovich as saying.

LUKASHENKA SAYS RUSSIA SHOULD HAVE WARNED ABOUT CRISIS.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on 17
September that Russia should have warned its CIS partners
about its serious financial situation before the crisis
erupted, Interfax reported. "This did not happen. That is why
the collapse in Russia cost us dearly," he commented.
Lukashenka added that Russia is still facing "very bad
things" and that they may become a "regular occurrence."
Referring to current economic policies in Russia, Lukashenka
said that "Russia is now adopting the principles that Belarus
has been working on for a long time." He added that there is
a need for him to meet with the Russian president or prime
minister to discuss Russia's economic course. JM

LATVIAN WELFARE MINISTER SUBMITS RESIGNATION. Vladimirs
Makarovs submitted his resignation on 17 September over
recently adopted amendments to the law on state pensions,
which he described as "unfeasible," RFE/RL's Latvian Service
reported. Under those amendments, retired people who apply
for higher pensions because they have continued to work after
retiring will no longer be required to pay back their
pensions for the previous three years. This non-payment,
however, will depend on the availability of funds in the
social insurance budget. In an interview with BNS, Makarovs
pointed out that in August, the budget's revenues were 6
million lats ($12 million) down on the projected level. With
the revenues for this month also shrinking, he commented that
there are grounds for concern that it will not be possible to
index pensions. JC

U.S. WANT LILEIKIS BROUGHT TO TRIAL. The U.S has called on
the Lithuanian government to bring suspected war criminal
Aleksandras Lileikis, a former U.S. citizen, to trial,
Reuters reported on 17 September. In a statement released by
the U.S. embassy in Vilnius, Department of State spokesman
James Rubin said "the United States calls on Lithuania to
take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that justice is
rendered in this and other important war crime cases from
Nazi occupation." Lileikis's trial was indefinitely postponed
last week when the defendant, pleading ill health, failed to
show up (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 1998). JC

LITHUANIA SET TO DELIVER MEDICAL AID TO KALININGRAD.
Lithuania is preparing to deliver medical aid worth 1 million
litas ($250,000) to Kaliningrad, BNS reported. Protocols on
the transfer of urgently needed medicines were signed at the
Lithuanian consulate in the Russian exclave on 17 September.
The medicines are intended for urban and regional children's
hospitals, intensive care hospitals, and psychoneurological
clinics. Lithuanian Ambassador Viktoras Baublys said Vilnius
is providing the support to Kaliningrad "out of [a sense of]
good-neighborliness," which, he added, is a priority of
Lithuanian foreign policy. JC

RUSSIAN CRISIS HITS POLISH BAZAARS. According to Jerzy
Kropiwnicki, head of the Government Center for Strategic
Studies, the Russian crisis has significantly reduced
unregulated trade at Polish bazaars, "Zycie Warszawy"
reported on 18 September. He said trade turnover fell
"particularly dramatically" at bazaars in Bialystok and
Warsaw. Annual turnover in Poland's unregulated trade sector
in Poland is estimated at $5-7 billion. Kropiwnicki believes
that the bazaar trade slump will not affect official trade
with Russia. Some 85 percent of Polish gas and oil imports
are from Russia. In his opinion, Poland should expect an
increase in such imports since Russia urgently needs hard-
currency revenues. The Russian crisis, he continued, will
affect only some market sectors, such as trade in vegetables,
and primarily eastern regions of the country, which depend to
a large extent on cross-border trade with Poland's eastern
neighbors. JM

SLOVAK BROADCASTING COUNCIL FINES MARKIZA TV. The Slovak
Radio and Television Council on 17 September fined the
private television company Markiza TV 3.5 million crowns
($120,000) for alleged violation of the country's electoral
law, Reuters reported. Markiza TV has given live coverage to
the protests against the dismissal by the station's new
management of its director-general, Pavol Rusko, and other
staff. The council ruled that this violated the law because
opposition leaders who addressed the protesters "conducted
election campaigning." Also on 17 September, the council
ruled in favor of Markiza's new owners, Gamatex, saying that
Gamatex owns 51 percent of Markiza TV shares and has the
right to make staff changes, AP reported. MS

KOSICE MAYOR SAYS HE CAN BRING DOWN MECIAR. Rudolf Schuster,
mayor of Kosice and leader of the Party of Civic
Understanding (SOP) on 17 September told Reuters that the SOP
is "the most important party in this election" and that only
he can bring about the demise of Prime Minister Vladimir
Meciar. Schuster's SOP was set up eight months ago and is
estimated to have the support of some 15 percent of the
electorate. He told the agency that "with us, [the opposition
can garner] 60 percent, without us, 50 percent." Schuster
said it is "crucial" for the opposition to remain united and
avoid "disintegration in squabbling over who holds what
post." He also said that with the 25-26 September election
date approaching, Meciar "is becoming desperate" and that "it
remains to be seen whether it is possible to punish him or
not" for his "many bad and big mistakes." MS

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES WEST. The West "sees only
itself and is still failing to understand what is going on in
Central and Eastern Europe," Prime Minister Viktor Orban said
in an interview with the German weekly "Die Woche," cited by
"Nepszabadsag" on 18 September. Orban said Western Europe's
ignorance prompted it to commit "all possible faults" in its
policies toward the wars in former Yugoslavia and the
integration of Central European countries into the EU and
NATO. Commenting on policies toward ethnic Hungarians abroad,
Orban said "our national borders are clear, but it is a fact
that Hungarians living in the Carpathian Basin are bound
together by a cultural identity. Hungarian minorities do not
represent a problem," Orban concluded, since "they have never
taken any action in favor of secession, but instead they have
formed [cultural and political] associations." MSZ

HUNGARY TAKES CUSTOMS DISPUTES WITH SLOVAKIA TO WTO. Hungary
will launch urgent proceedings against Slovakia at the World
Trade Organization, Hungary's ambassador to the WTO, Istvan
Major, told "Vilaggazdasag" on 18 September. Last week
Slovakia increased customs tariffs on Hungarian wheat imports
by 70 percent. Hungarian trade experts believe that the
Slovak decision may have been triggered by political, rather
than economic, considerations. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL OFFICIALS CALL FOR CALM.
Albanian President Rexhep Mejdani has called on his
countrymen to disregard opposition leader Sali Berisha's
appeal for a nationwide protest on 18 September, Reuters
reported. Mejdani made the public plea after a meeting with
special EU envoy Herbert Grubmayr, OSCE ambassador to Albania
Daan Everts, and Austrian ambassador to Tirana Arnold Riedel.
Everts said the officials agreed that it would be good for
"people to stay at home, so that they are not misused for
political ends." The European Parliament in Strasbourg passed
a resolution on 17 September calling on all political forces
in the country to seek a peaceful settlement to the crisis.
PB

BERISHA REMAINS DEFIANT AS PARLIAMENT MOVES TO STRIP HIS
IMMUNITY. After another march involving a few thousand people
in downtown Tirana on 17 September, former President Sali
Berisha continued his attack on Prime Minister Fatos Nano and
reiterated a call for a nationwide protest to take place the
following day, dpa reported. Berisha called Nano the
"champion of corruption in Europe" and accused him of leading
the country toward civil conflict. Also on 17 September, a
parliamentary commission voted to recommend that the
parliament lift Berisha's immunity as a deputy. Berisha could
face a sentence of life imprisonment if convicted of
"incitement to armed rebellion." The commission voted to
recommend that six other Democratic Party deputies not be
stripped of their immunity. PB

RUGOVA FINDS INTERIM AUTONOMY ACCORD UNACCEPTABLE. A U.S.-
backed plan to end the violence in Kosova has been declared
unacceptable by Kosova "shadow state" President Ibrahim
Rugova, BETA reported on 17 September. The proposed three-
year accord, which was published in the daily "Koha Ditore,"
refers to Kosova as a territory with a sovereign parliament,
executive, local police force, and judicial system. Kosova
would be represented in the Serbian government and the
Yugoslav parliament, although federal officials would not be
allowed to interfere in Kosova politics. After a meeting
between U.S. envoy Christopher Hill and Rugova in Prishtina,
chief Kosova Albanian negotiator Fehmi Agani said his side
has "serious complaints about the proposal and it will have
to be changed." The Kosova Liberation Army has described the
signing of any agreement with Belgrade short of complete
independence for Kosova as "national treason." PB

RUSSIA OBJECTS TO PROPOSED UN RESOLUTION. A Russian delegate
voiced Moscow's opposition to a French-British resolution
that calls for a global flight ban on Yugoslavia national
airlines and other unspecified sanctions if Serbian forces
continue their attacks on ethnic Albanians in Kosova, Reuters
reported on 18 September. The disapproval came during a
meeting of delegates from the Contact Group countries held in
New York. The resolution would demand that Yugoslav President
Slobodan Milosevic call an immediate cease-fire in Kosova and
allow humanitarian organizations unfettered access to
displaced persons or face the ban on flights and other
possible sanctions. PB

SERBIAN FORCES CONTINUE ATTACK ON VILLAGES. Backed by tanks,
Serbian forces continued their assault on ethnic Albanian
villages in northeastern Kosova on 17 September, AFP and
Reuters reported. A spokesman for the UN refugee agency in
Prishtina said some 10,000 refugees have fled their homes in
the past three days to escape the shelling. The Serbian
offensive is concentrated on the three towns of Kosovska
Mitrovica, Vucitrn, and Podujevo, Serbian sources said.
According to Kosova Albanian sources, six UCK fighters and
one Serbian policeman died in the fighting, but those figures
could not be confirmed. In Washington, the Defense Department
said it is making plans to provide emergency food supplies,
including air drops, in order to prevent a humanitarian
disaster from occuring. Some 300,000 ethnic Albanians are
reported to be displaced in Kosova without food or shelter.
PB

SERBIAN OFFICIALS BLAST GERMANY OVER REMARKS. Vojislav
Seselj, the ultranationalist deputy prime minister of Serbia,
slammed German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe for supporting
ethnic Albanian "terrorists" and warned Germany of defeat if
it participated in armed intervention in Kosova, AP reported
on 17 September. The German Foreign Ministry in Bonn on 18
September rejected a formal protest by Belgrade the previous
day. Ruehe said on 15 September that NATO military action
against Kosova would be possible in a matter of weeks (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 16 September 1998). Seselj said "Germany
and their allies must be defeated if they strike against our
territory." Ivica Dacic, the spokesman for Serbia's ruling
Socialist Party, said that apparently "two [German] genocides
against the Serbian people were not enough, so they want to
finish off the job." PB

HARD-LINE SERBIAN CANDIDATE CLAIMS VICTORY. Nikola Poplasen,
the leader of the Serbian Radical Party and a candidate for
the presidency of the Republika Srpska, claimed on 17
September that he has an insurmountable lead over incumbent
President Biljana Plavsic, AP reported. Many Poplasen
supporters filled the streets in towns throughhout Republika
Srpska, waving flags in celebration. Hanns Schumacher, a
deputy to high representative Carlos Westendorp, admitted
that Plavsic is trailing but that there are many absentee
ballots that still need to be counted. Poplasen claimed he
has a 7 percent lead over Plavsic and that there are too few
uncounted ballots for his lead to be overcome. Poplasen is an
ally of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. The OSCE
has said final results will be issued next week. PB

ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY 'BREAKS LINKS' WITH PRESIDENT. The
Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 17 September
announced it is "breaking all links" with President Emil
Constantinescu, whom it accuses of "partisanship" and failure
to fulfill his duty of "mediator" among social and political
forces, Mediafax reported. The PDSR said that at a meeting
with leaders of the ruling National Peasant Party Christian
Democratic (PNTCD) on 15 September, Constantinescu advised
the PNTCD to "attack the opposition, and above all the PDSR."
In reaction, presidential counselor Zoe Petre said the PDSR
is displaying "excessive political zeal" over alleged
statements at a meeting where it was not present. She also
said that the opposition has "clearly shown from the
beginning" that it is not interested in taking part in
consultations initiated by Constantinescu with parliamentary
parties. Those consultations continued on 17 September, when
Constantinescu met with leaders of the National Liberal
Party. MS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES JUDICIAL SYSTEM. Speaking at
the inauguration ceremony of 10 new Supreme Court judges,
President Constantinescu said that the Romanian public
regards the country's judicial system "with a lack of trust."
He added that he himself is "shocked" by judges who have
condoned "clear acts of breaking the law" and let criminals
go unpunished. Meanwhile, the government has scheduled
elections for the mayoralty of Bucharest for 25 October. The
election campaign will begin on 1 October. MS

MOLDOVAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT POSTPONES DECISION ON 'NUCLEAR
TRANSIT.' The Constitutional Court on 17 September postponed
until the next day its ruling on an appeal by a group of
deputies from the Democratic Convention of Moldova against
the parliament's decision to allow the transit to Russia of
spent nuclear fuel from the Bulgarian reactor at Kozloduy,
RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. According to ITAR-TASS on
17 September, by the time the court rules on the appeal, the
train transporting the fuel from Kozloduy may have already
entered Moldovan territory. Also on 17 September, the
parliament passed laws on electricity and gas, which provide
for setting up a National Agency for Regulating Energy. The
two laws are part of a package of legislation stipulated by
international lending institutions as a condition for
resuming loans to Moldova. MS

MOLDOVAN POLITICIAN MURDERED. Valentin Ciobanu, a prominent
leader of the Christian Democratic Popular Front (now part of
the Democratic Convention of Moldova, a member of the ruling
coalition), died on 17 September of wounds sustained six days
earlier when he was attacked by unidentified persons in front
of his home. The police did not release news of the attack
until after Ciobanu's death. Parliamentary deputy chairman
Iurie Rosca told RFE/RL that there can be no doubt that
Ciobanu died as a result of a "premeditated political
murder." He ruled out robbery, explaining that "Ciobanu was
so poor that only his soul could be stolen from him." Rosca
commented that Moldova has started "emulating the Russian
fashion of killing on orders" and that "other attempts may be
under way right now in Chisinau." He also said that he is
"bewildered" that the media did not report the attack until
after Ciobanu's death. MS

END NOTE

TIGHTENING OF EASTERN BORDERS GIVES KYIV WESTERN CONTACTS

by Jan de Weydenthal

	Earlier this week, Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw
Geremek called on Ukraine to impose full control over its
eastern borders as an important step toward preserving visa-
free travel to Poland and providing for easier contacts with
the West.
	Speaking at the Kyiv Institute of International
Relations on 16 September, Geremek said Poland intends to
resist Western pressure to introduce visas for Ukrainians.
But, he said, Ukraine must take firmer steps to counter the
smuggling of weapons and drugs from the East across Polish
territory.
	Poland has been under pressure from the EU to tighten
control over its eastern border. German Interior Minister
Manfred Kanther told Polish officials during a visit to
Warsaw last month that the government should bring its visa
policies into line with those of the EU. He added that this
is a condition of Poland's EU membership.
	Warsaw has signed agreements on visa-free travel and on
the re-admission of illegal migrants with Kyiv. But it has
restricted entry for Russians and Belarusians, whose
governments failed to reach similar accords.
	Ukraine has been concerned that any restriction on
travel to Poland would adversely affect its economy. Poland
is an important source of trade and employment to thousands
of Ukrainians. During a meeting with Geremek, Ukraine's Prime
Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko said that Kyiv might set up
several free economic zones along the border with Poland to
further promote economic contacts.
	Polish-Ukrainian bilateral trade turnover reached almost
$1.7 billion in 1997 and has grown rapidly so far this year.
	Trade with Poland has become even more important for
Ukraine since the onset of Russia's economic crisis. Russia
is Ukraine's main trading partner, accounting for 40 percent
of trade turnover, and Russia's financial crisis has
disrupted those ties with Ukraine
	Geremek emphasized in his speech that the Russian crisis
provides a reminder of the need for speeding up reforms and
expanding contacts with the West. He said that Poland would
like to see Ukraine in all European institutions and is ready
"to support Ukraine at this difficult moment."
	The economic decline in Russia is certain to affect
Ukraine's economy. In addition, the continuing political
uncertainty in Moscow does not augur well for many unsolved
problems in Ukrainian-Russian relations.
	The Russian State Duma has failed to ratify a Ukrainian-
Russian friendship treaty recognizing Ukraine's independence.
And there is still no agreement on delimiting borders between
the two states, seven years after Ukraine's declaration of
independence. Influential Russian politicians still talk
about what they call the "inherent" unity of the two
countries within Russian-dominated Slavic nationhood.
	This state of affairs has not been lost on Ukrainian
leaders. During Geremek's visit to Ukraine, there were
frequent mentions of a strategic partnership between Kyiv and
Warsaw. Stricter control over Ukraine's borders with Russia
and Belarus appears to be an important element in the future
development of such a partnership.
	Following talks with Geremek, Volodymyr Horbulin, head
of Ukraine's Security and Defense Council, said that "we have
to stop the smuggling of drugs, stop organized crime and
illegal immigration through our eastern border."
	Such a program would have important political
implications in reinforcing Ukraine's national and
territorial separateness from Russia.
	Poland is to enter NATO next year and is currently in
accession talks with the EU. Geremek said that Poland's
membership in these institutions could benefit Ukraine.
Currently, the main problem is the one of visas. And
resolving that problem depends on how Ukraine seeks to
tighten its eastern borders, he said.
	Meanwhile, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski is to
meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, in Crimea
next week. They are to discuss bilateral relations and the
regional repercussions of the Russian crisis.

The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent.

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