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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 194, Part II, 7 October 1998


___________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 194, Part II, 7 October 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

* SLOVAKIA'S SDL NO LONGER OPPOSES COALITION WITH ETHNIC
HUNGARIANS

* 'GRIMMEST SITUATION' REGARDING KOSOVA

* MONTENEGRO SAYS LAW BACKS JOURNALISTS
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE TO 'UNCONDITIONALLY SUPPORT' UN DECISION ON KOSOVA.
Andriy Veselovskyy, an official in the Ukrainian Foreign
Ministry, told journalists on 6 October that Ukraine "will
unconditionally support" a possible decision of the UN
Security Council on the use of force against Yugoslavia,
Ukrainian Television reported. But he stressed that Ukraine
is interested in a peaceful solution of the Kosova crisis.
The same day, the Ukrainian Supreme Council adopted a
resolution calling for the issue of Kosova autonomy to be
settled "in a peaceful, civilized way, while maintaining the
territorial integrity of the [Yugoslav] state." ITAR-TASS
reported that Rukh deputies did not participate in the vote
on the resolution, nor did part of the Popular Democratic
Party and the Greens parliamentary caucuses. JM

KUCHMA WANTS TO BOOST ALCOHOL, TOBACCO INCOME. Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma ordered government officials on 6
October to raise more money from the country's alcohol and
tobacco industries by cutting taxes and reducing smuggling,
AP reported. Kuchma criticized the government's increase in
the excise tax on alcohol, which had to be revoked last week
because prices increased so much that distilleries were
unable to sell their products. Kuchma also said the heavy
taxes on tobacco and alcohol have resulted in a huge black
market for those goods, adding that 75 percent of cigarettes
and 25 percent of alcoholic beverages sold in Ukraine are
either smuggled into the country or illegally produced. JM

LUKASHENKA PLEDGES HELP TO YUGOSLAVIA IN KOSOVA CONFLICT...
Belarusian President said on 6 October that Belarus is even
more resolute than Russia in supporting Yugoslavia over its
stance on Kosova, Belarusian Television reported. "We will
unconditionally offer Yugoslavia any support and help our
Slavic [brothers] might need," he said. He also said his
offer includes "military help, except sending our boys
outside Belarus's borders, because the [Belarusian]
Constitution forbids that. The Yugoslavs can count on us, we
will meet our obligations under our treaty on friendship and
mutual assistance." JM

...SAYS HIS LIFE 'HAS HUNG BY A THREAD.' One year after the
assassination of Yauhen Mikalutski, chairman of the State
Control Committee in Mahilyou and Lukashenka's friend, the
Belarusian president announced that the crime has been solved
and the perpetrators arrested. He commented to Belarusian
Television on 6 October that the Mikalutski case had also
involved him personally: "It is probably too early to speak
about it, but the president's life, too, has hung by a
thread." He noted that the assassination "was prepared just
several meters from here" and pointed to the Drazdy compound,
where the residences of evicted Western ambassadors are
located. And he added that during the investigation. "several
tons of weapons ranging from a Kalashnikov rifle to hundreds
of kilograms of TNT" were found. Lukashenka pledged that
details of the investigation will soon be revealed to the
public. JM

ANOTHER ESTONIAN BANK IN TROUBLE. The Central Bank on 6
October announced that it has granted a request by the small
ERA Bank to suspend its license until 15 October, ETA
reported. In that appeal, the bank's management said that
"considering the current situation, where the confidence in
Estonian financial institutions is at a low, we may face
temporary liquidity problems in the near future." It also
noted that while ERA Bank is actively seeking a way out of
its current difficulties, it will be necessary for the
Central Bank to intervene. ETA noted that doubts about the
solvency of ERA Bank emerged earlier this week when it was
reported that the bank had transferred its 36 percent
ownership of the now defunct EVEA Bank (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 5 October 1998) to four "shelf companies"
registered in Estonia in order to conceal losses totaling
some 50 million kroons (some $3.8 million).

RUSSIA QUALIFIES STAND ON LATVIAN REFERENDUM. One day after
hailing the results of the referendum in Latvia on amendments
to the country's citizenship laws (see "RFE/RL Newsline," the
Russian Foreign Ministry has qualified its response to that
vote. Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said on 6 October
that while Moscow "positively appraises" the referendum on
the citizenship law, it believes it is "too early to speak of
radical changes in the humanitarian situation" in Latvia, BNS
reported, citing Interfax. He added that "radical
nationalists" in Latvia continue to seek to tighten the
citizenship and education laws contrary to the opinion of the
Council of Europe and the OSCE." The Latvian Foreign Ministry
responded by saying this latest comment displays a "lack of
understanding of the situation in Latvia" and is "clearly
inconsistent" with the evaluations of other countries and
international organizations. JC

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT NOT TO IMPEACH IMPRISONED DEPUTY. The
Conservative parliamentary group on 6 October voted by 58
with four abstentions to reject the impeachment of lawmaker
Audrius Butkevicius, who is jail awaiting trial on charges of
attempted large-scale fraud, BNS reported. Deputies from the
Center Union and leftist opposition parties, which had
proposed launching impeachment proceedings, were absent
during the vote. The Conservatives suggested that Butkevicius
should give up his parliamentary mandate, adding that the
parliament expressed its will one year ago when it gave
permission to prosecute the lawmaker (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
30 September and 2 October 1998). JC

LUSTRATION LAW APPEALED IN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. The Center,
Social Democratic, and Democratic Labor parliamentary groups
have appealed to the Constitutional Court over a law that
would prohibit former KGB staff from working as civil
servants in government and administration structures for 10
years, BNS reported on 6 October. Earlier this year,
President Valdas Adamkus, refusing to sign the bill into law,
returned the legislation to the parliament for further debate
and proposed that it not go into effect until 1 January 1999-
- a proposal that the parliament approved. A presidential
commission ruled last week that the issue of restricting the
employment of former KGB staff must be decided by the courts.
JC

POLISH PARTIES DISPLEASED WITH LOCAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN
BROADCASTS. The ruling Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) on 5
October protested President Aleksander Kwasniewski's "covert
attempt" to win support for the opposition Democratic Left
Alliance (SLD) during his 4 October interview with Polish
Television, PAP reported. The AWS demands that Polish
Television grant Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek the same amount
of prime air time as Kwasniewski received. The next day,
Poland's smaller parties--the Polish Peasant Party, the Labor
Union, and the National Pensioners' Party--protested public
radio's favoritism toward the AWS and the SLD. Labor Union
leader Marek Pol commented that radio broadcasts are clearly
aimed at confirming the public view that "Poland is like a
boxing ring in which only two opponents, the AWS and the SLD,
appear." JM

POLAND TO OBTAIN $4.6 MILLION FROM U.S. FOR PENSION REFORM.
Poland will receive $4.6 million from the U.S. for a pension
reform that would make retirement payments dependent on
employee contributions to state or private funds, AP reported
on 6 October. The money, supplied by the U.S. Agency for
International Development, will be spent on an information
campaign, training, and supervision of funds. U.S. Ambassador
to Poland Daniel Fried said Poland's pension reform is vital
for completing the country's transformation from communism to
democracy and a market economy. The new social security
system in Poland will be launched on 1 January 1999 (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 23 September 1998). JM

ASYLUM SEEKERS VIEW CZECH REPUBLIC AS TRANSIT TO WEST. Jiri
Kolar, the chief of the Czech police, said on 6 October that
95 percent of the refugees caught at the border with Slovakia
are heading for the West, CTK reported. Kolar said the
refugees request asylum in the Czech Republic but never go to
refugee camps. He said that all refugees will now be bused to
camps and that if they refuse to stay they will be taken back
to Slovakia. Police have captured some 26,000 illegal aliens
this year, most of them from Yugoslavia. PB

OPPOSITION CRITICIZES CZECH MINISTER'S HEALTH reform PLAN.
Opposition politicians are criticizing the health reform plan
of Health Minister Ivan David as being too socialist, CTK
reported on 7 October. Miroslav Macek, deputy chairman of the
Civic Democratic Party, said David's plan was a "return to
the Communist system of the 1950s. It considers peoples'
health to be public property." The plan, called
"Consolidation and Development of Health Care in 1998-2005,"
would create a system of heavily subsidized state-run
facilities, whereas private health care centers would be
excluded from the health insurance system, the daily "Lidove
noviny" reported. Vaclav Krasa, deputy chairman of the
Freedom Union, said the plan would lead to a lack of foreign
medicine and long lines at doctor's offices as well as
deprive the patient of a choice of physicians. PB

SLOVAKIA'S SDL NO LONGER OPPOSES COALITION WITH ETHNIC
HUNGARIANS. Jozef Migas, chairman of the Party of the
Democratic Left (SDL), said on 6 October that he no longer
opposes forming a coalition that includes the Hungarian
Coalition Party (SMK), AP reported. Migas said "we want to
form a government for four years, and as soon as we can."
Migas had voiced his disapproval of including the SMK in the
proposed four-party coalition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5
October 1998). Observers say the SDL was reluctant to add the
SMK because of fears it would push for regional autonomy or
seek to have the Benes decrees invalidated. Under those
decrees, some 60,000 ethnic Hungarians were deported from
Czechoslovakia after 1945. Bela Bugar, the chairman of the
SMK, said his party did not want to bring up the Benes
decrees during coalition negotiations. PB

MECIAR NAMES DUBCEK, KRAMPLOVA TO FOREIGN POSTS. Slovak Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar, using some of the rights accorded
to him in the absence of a president, has appointed Milan
Dubcek and former Foreign Minister Zdenka Kramplova as
ambassadors. Dubcek, the youngest son of former Czechoslovak
Communist Party leader Alexander Dubcek, was named ambassador
to Greece. Kramplova was named ambassador to Canada, a post
that has been open for more than a year. Kramplova said she
would ignore a request from the Slovak Democratic Coalition
not to depart for Canada until a new government is formed in
Bratislava. "I was approved for this post by a legitimate
cabinet," she said. Meciar announced the same day that the
new parliament will convene on 29 October--the latest
possible date allowed under the constitution. PB

HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER IN WASHINGTON. On the second day of
his official visit to the U.S., Viktor Orban met with
Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh,
Hungarian media reported on 6 October. Orban and Freeh signed
an agreement on joint action against organized crime. In
other news, Klaus Naumann, chairman of NATO's military
committee, told journalists in Budapest that the alliance is
counting on the participation only of present member states
in the event of a military operation against Yugoslavia. In
meeting with Defense Minister Janos Szabo, Naumann expressed
his satisfaction with Hungary's preparation for accession but
said further development is needed in the areas of English-
language training and air defense cooperation. MSZ

HUNGARY'S AGRICULTURE MINISTER REACHES COMPROMISE WITH
FARMERS. Jozsef Torgyan and farmers' representatives
announced on 6 October that an agreement has been reached in
solving the ongoing grain crisis, ending weeks of mutual
accusations. The ministry has promised farmers that it will
extend deadlines for repaying loans. In return, farmers have
called off their planned demonstrations, Hungarian media
reported. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

'GRIMMEST SITUATION' REGARDING KOSOVA. An unnamed senior U.S.
diplomat told Reuters in Belgrade on 7 October that U.S.
envoy Richard Holbrooke and other negotiators now face "the
grimmest situation we've faced in this region." The previous
day, Holbrooke discussed Kosova with ethnic Albanian leaders
in Prishtina and then met for the second time within 24 hours
with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 6 October 1998). In Washington, President Bill
Clinton warned that "the stakes [in Kosova] are high...[and]
the time to end the violence is now." He referred to the
province as a "powder keg" and added that the crisis there
threatens to destabilize other countries in the Balkans. PM

SECURITY COUNCIL TAKES NO ACTION ON KOSOVA. The UN Security
Council issued a non-binding statement on 6 October demanding
from Belgrade a "full and sustained compliance" with the
council's recent call for a complete withdrawal of Serbian
forces from the province. The highest UN body condemned the
"tactics of indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force
against civilians, as well as terrorist activities." It also
called on both sides to comply but did not specify what the
UN would do if they did not. The council urged the
international community to "intensify efforts to prevent a
humanitarian disaster." PM

ARKAN PREPARES TO RESIST NATO. Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic said
in Jagodina on 6 October that he will reactivate his
paramilitary forces in the event of NATO attacks on Serbia,
"Nasa Borba" reported. "It is not important whom we have to
face but the sanctity of that which we are defending--and we
are defending sacred Serbian land.... We shall not kneel
before NATO missiles.... We shall not allow ourselves to
become the slaves of NATO or any other foreign power." In
Prishtina, the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) issued a
statement reaffirming its claim as the sole representative of
the Kosovars. The UCK stressed that armed struggle is the
only sure way to end the Serbian crackdown. PM

ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER URGES GROUND TROOPS FOR KOSOVA.
Paskal Milo told a press conference in Tirana on 6 October
that NATO should consider sending ground troops into Kosova
if air strikes fail to produce results. He added that
"Albania supports air strikes by NATO forces against Serbian
military installations as an effort to send a strong message
to Milosevic to sit down at the negotiating table." Milo
stressed that "if we have a continuing humanitarian problem,
we would need [ground troops]. If we have an escalation of
the conflict, then there should be a military presence." Milo
also said that Albania hopes for improved cooperation with
Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova. He added that Rugova has
repeatedly turned down invitations to visit Tirana and
discuss a coordinated foreign policy. FS

MONTENEGRO ASKS NATO TO RECONSIDER. The Montenegrin
parliament passed a resolution on 6 October calling upon NATO
to rethink plans for air strikes against Serbia, an RFE/RL
correspondent reported from Podgorica. The legislators said
that such attacks would only kill innocent victims and play
into Milosevic's hands by giving him an excuse to crack down
upon his domestic enemies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October
1998). PM

SESELJ THREATENS REBROADCASTERS. Serbian Deputy Prime
Minister Vojislav Seselj told independent Radio B-92 on 6
October that the government may soon take tough measures
against Serbian radio and television stations rebroadcasting
the programs of Western stations "that carry out hostile
espionage propaganda against our country." He suggested that
the authorities could close, seize the equipment of, or start
legal proceedings against the offending Serbian stations.
Seselj added: "I guarantee you personally that you will not
[re]broadcast [the programs of] Radio Free Europe," the
Belgrade independent daily "Danas" reported. Seselj and
Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic have recently
threatened legal measures against those who rebroadcast the
programs of RFE/RL, VOA, the BBC, Deutsche Welle, or Radio
France International (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 September and
6 October 1998). PM

MONTENEGRO SAYS LAW BACKS JOURNALISTS. The Republican
Secretariat for Information issued a statement in Podgorica
on 6 October that took issue with the "extremely crude"
charges made by Vucic against the media. It stressed that
Serbian officials have no right to criticize the media in
Montenegro. The secretariat said that it has no evidence of
any wrongdoing by domestic or foreign journalists or media
working on Montenegrin territory. It stressed that the law
guarantees the domestic and foreign media's right to conduct
their professional activities peacefully and unhindered. The
secretariat added that it is "extremely concerned about
the...brutal attacks...against those stations that
rebroadcast foreign news programs" or exercise their right to
present their own point of view. PM

WESTENDORP SAYS SESELJ 'NOT ACCEPTABLE.' The international
community's Carlos Westendorp wrote Milosevic on 5 October
that he expects the Yugoslav leader to "keep Seselj out of
Bosnian politics." Westendorp described as "unwelcome"
Seselj's recent calls on Bosnian Serb leaders to form an
"all-Serb government" without Muslim or Croatian
participation as well as his implicit threats to take SFOR
peacekeepers hostage in the event of NATO air strikes against
Serbia. Westendorp added that Seselj's "presence in the
Republika Srpska would be interpreted as an unfriendly act
aimed at disrupting the peace process...[and] I would have to
consider taking direct action" against the Bosnian Serb
branch of Seselj's Serbian Radical Party in reply. Also in
Sarajevo, a spokesman for SFOR said that the peacekeepers
"will not tolerate" any interference with their work in
response to international military intervention in Kosova,
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

MILITARY EQUIPMENT FOR MACEDONIA. Representatives of the
10,000-strong Macedonian army on 6 October formally took
possession of 60 armored personnel carriers supplied by
Germany. The vehicles are BTR-70s that belonged to the former
East German army and are accompanied by 35 tons of spare
parts. The army will distribute the APCs to barracks in major
towns throughout the country, AP reported. PM

FRIENDS OF ALBANIA SET PRIORITIES. The Friends of Albania, a
new OSCE-sponsored group made up of representatives from
international organizations and embassies, held their first
meeting in Tirana on 6 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1
October 1998). The group seeks to increase coordination
between international organizations and help the Albanian
government in its efforts to stabilize the political and
economic situation. The group agreed that its main goals are:
improving the country's security situation, fighting
corruption, drafting a new constitution, assisting refugees
from Kosova, promoting economic development, and encouraging
professionalism in the media. Elsewhere, Prime Minister
Pandeli Majko discussed measures aimed at fighting corruption
at a meeting with the prosecutor-general, the secret service
chief, the head of the anti-corruption agency, the justice
minister, and the head of the parliament's legal commission.
FS

ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER URGES REFORMS. Radu Vasile said on 6
October that the Romanian government must swiftly carry out
long-delayed reforms or face the danger of becoming a "bad
debtor," Reuters reported. Vasile, commenting in Bucharest
upon arriving from the IMF-World Bank meeting in Washington,
said Romania is entering "the 11th hour." In a report
released by the executive directors of the IMF the same day,
the fund warned Romania that its current fiscal and monetary
policies are "unsustainable." It said Bucharest must bring
the state budget under control and that the pace of
privatization and collection of taxes needs to be increased.
The report praised Romania's liberalization of the foreign
exchange market and the government's focus on controlling
inflation. Vasile added that the proposed deal with Bell
Helicopters is "not feasible" in the near future. PB

RADIOACTIVE MUSHROOMS FOUND IN ROMANIA, BULGARIA. Bulgarian
officials said on 6 October that they have discovered
mushrooms tainted with radioactive cesium 137 in the southern
part of the country, AFP reported. An official said the
radioactive levels recorded are the highest since the
Chornobyl nuclear accident in 1986 and twice as high as
generally accepted levels. Romanian officials said last week
that they exported contaminated mushrooms to several EU
countries but that the levels were not high enough to
threaten public health. PB

BULGARIA LOOKS AT COSTS OF CLOSING DOWN NUCLEAR REACTORS.
Ivan Shilyashki, the chairman of Bulgaria's Power Generation
Commission, said on 5 October that it will cost some $100
million to decommission the two largest reactors at the
Kozloduy nuclear power plant, BTA reported. Shilyashki's
committee is charged with formulating the country's national
strategy on nuclear power for the next 30-50 years. The
European Union has made repeated calls for Bulgaria to close
down Kozloduy, which the EU deems unsafe. Shilyashki said
Bulgaria will continue to transport spent nuclear fuel rods
to Russia. He added that it is 25-30 percent cheaper to send
the rods there than to Western Europe. PB

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