Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid. - Dostoevsky
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 207, Part II, 26 October 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 207, Part II, 26 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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Russian Media Empires IV
Media have closed or merged, advertising is shrinking,
and layoffs and salary cuts are widespread as Russian
media try to survive the financial crisis that began in
August.
http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/rumedia4/index.html
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Headlines, Part II

* OBSTACLES TO HUNGARIAN PARTICIPATION IN SLOVAK
GOVERNMENT REMOVED

* BREAKTHROUGH IN BELGRADE?

* SERBIA CONTINUES MEDIA CRACKDOWN
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN PREMIER ANNOUNCES PRICE INCREASES. Syarhey
Linh told the legislature on 23 October that the
government has been forced to adopt "a number of tough
measures" to fight the current financial and economic
crisis, Belarusian Television reported. He said Belarus
will import foodstuffs at "negotiated prices" and
increase prices for Belarusian goods to "equalize prices
with neighbors and prevent [unauthorized] imports." He
added that "we are forced to set higher prices on non-
foodstuffs because production is unprofitable not only
in the agricultural sector but also in a number of our
[industrial] enterprises." JM

BELARUSIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL CONFIRMS ATTEMPT ON
LUKASHENKA'S LIFE. Aleh Bazhelka on 23 October confirmed
Alyaksandr Lukashenka's disclosure of a failed attempt
on the president's life (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7
October 1998), Belarusian Television reported. The
prosecutor-general added that the perpetrators are under
arrest and will face trial. The television report also
reiterated Lukashenka's statement that the failed
attempt is linked to the eviction of Western ambassadors
from the Drazdy housing compound, near Minsk. JM

UKRAINIAN LEFTISTS FAIL TO BAN SEA BREEZE '98 MANEUVERS.
Communists and their allies in the parliament failed on
23 October to achieve the required majority to ban the
"Sea Breeze '98" naval exercises under NATO's
Partnership for Peace Program scheduled. They fell 31
votes short of the necessary total of 226. The Sea
Breeze '98 maneuvers, which are scheduled to take place
in Ukraine from 25 October to 4 November, will involve
4,500 troops, including 14 Ukrainian ships and naval
vessels from the U.S., Russia, and other countries.
Ukrainian Communists believe that NATO's participation
in the maneuvers poses a military threat to Ukraine.
"Bringing NATO troops on Ukrainian territory is a
prelude to a future imperialistic, aggressive war on
Ukraine's territory," Ukrainian Television quoted
Communist parliamentary deputy Volodymyr Moiseyenko as
saying. JM

UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES 1999 BUDGET. The cabinet
on 23 October approved a revised 1999 budget draft with
a deficit of 0.6 percent of GDP, AP reported. The
document provides for revenues totaling 22.5 billion
hryvni ($6.6 billion) and 1 percent growth of GDP, which
is expected to reach 117.5 billion hryvni in 1999. The
cabinet will submit the new budget to the parliament at
the same time as the government's action program for the
next six months. Ukrainian Television reported that the
action program's priorities include macroeconomic
stabilization, completing tax reform, promoting
entrepreneurship, and implementing administrative
reform. JM

FORMER ESTONIAN PREMIER RE-ELECTED HEAD OF FATHERLAND
UNION. The right-leaning Fatherland Union has re-elected
Mart Laar as its chairman, ETA and BNS reported on 24
October. The 38-year-old Laar served as the party's head
and as prime minister from 1992 to 1994, during which
time he became known for his advocacy of economic "shock
therapy." The Fatherland Union, which currently has 7-8
percent support among the electorate, is seeking to form
an election alliance with the centrist Moderates and the
right-leaning People's Party. The three parties have
already set up a bloc, called the United Opposition,
that cooperates in the parliament. JC

FINAL RESULTS OF LATVIAN ELECTIONS. According to the
final official results of the 3 October general
elections, the People's Party won 21.19 percent of the
vote, or 24 seats in the 100-member parliament, BNS and
Reuters reported on 23 October. Latvia's Way followed
with 18.05 percent (21 seats), the Fatherland and
Freedom party 14.65 percent (17), National Harmony Party
14.12 percent (16), the Social Democratic Alliance 12.81
percent (14), and the New Party 7.31 percent (eight).
Voter turnout was 71.89 percent of the electorate. The
new parliament will have 83 men and 17 women, compared
with 90 men and 10 women in the current legislature.
Meanwhile, talks on forming a new government are to
continue this week. JC

TEAM OF EXPERTS TO HELP DECIDE IGNALINA'S FATE? State-
owned Lietuvos Energija has announced that while from a
technical point of view, the Ignalina Atomic Power Plant
could remain in operation until 2030, its continued use
will be decided by the administration and parliament,
BNS reported on 23 October. That statement follows an
interview in which the company's secretary-general,
Anzelmas Bacauskas, said he believes Ignalina will be in
operation for the next 30 years (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
23 October 1998). The statement stressed that
Bacauskas's comments referred "only to the [plant's]
technical capacity." It added that if required, the
issue of the shutdown of [Ignalina]...could be resolved
by a commission of independent international experts."
At the same time, it stressed that the administration
and parliament will have the final say. Meanwhile, a
three-day international seminar on the safety of
Ignalina opens in Vilnius on 26 October. JC

POLISH GOVERNMENT ADOPTS 1999 DRAFT BUDGET. The
Solidarity-led government on 24 October adopted a 1999
draft budget that aims at economic growth and reform in
line with Poland's goal of joining the EU, AP reported.
Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz called the draft
"responsible," saying it will encourage Poland's
development. The draft calls for revenues of 129.28
billion zlotys ($38 billion) and foresees a growth of
5.1 percent of GDP and a deficit of 2.4 percent.
Revenues are 15 million zloty down on this year's level
because of the transfer of some funds to local
governments under the administrative reform that goes
into effect on 1 January 1999. The draft budget must now
be approved by the parliament and the president. JM

POLAND'S MAJOR PARTIES WIN LOCAL ELECTIONS. The State
Electoral Commission reported on 23 October that the
ruling Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) won 10,613 of
the 63,765 seats in regional councils, while the
Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) gained 8,840 mandates.
The liberal Freedom Union, the AWS's coalition partner,
won only 1,141 seats, a result widely considered as
disappointing. According to Bogdan Szczesniak, director
of the electoral commission, the distribution of
regional power in Poland remains unclear because more
than 38,000 seats were won by local groups that have no
party affiliation. According to "Gazeta Wyborcza," the
SLD has control of eight of the 16 provinces and the AWS
six. Turnout was 45 percent, up from 34 percent in 1994.
JM

HAVEL TO TAKE REST ON DOCTORS' ADVICE... Martin Krafl,
head of the presidential office's press department, told
CTK on 24 October that President Vaclav Havel's visit to
the German town of Muenster, which ended that day, will
be his last foreign visit for some time. He added that
on his doctors' advice, Havel will now take a rest and
his schedule will be "radically reduced." Krafl said the
demanding program of the last days had "exhausted" the
president, who is suffering from bronchitis. MS

...REVOKES DECISION ON AWARD TO FORMER VIENNA MAYOR.
Presidential spokesman Ladislav Spacek on 25 October
said Havel is not planning to offer an explanation for
his decision to withdraw an announced award to former
Vienna Mayor Helmut Zilk. Zilk had reportedly been
nominated to receive the Order of Thomas Garrigue
Masaryk at a 28 October ceremony marking the 80th
anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. Havel
withdrew the honor after the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung"
claimed Zilk had spied for the Czech communist secret
service in the 1950s and 1960s and provided information
that led to several convictions. Zilk told Czech
Television on 24 October that the accusations were
"absolute nonsense." Spacek said that since there is "no
legal claim" to a state order, it is not possible to
view the president's decision as having inflicted
"damage" on Zilk. MS

OBSTACLES TO HUNGARIAN PARTICIPATION IN SLOVAK
GOVERNMENT REMOVED. A congress of the Party of the
Democratic Left (SDL) on 24 October approved the
participation of the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) in
the country's next government, AP reported, citing
Slovak media. The SDL has been the only opposition party
to express reservations about the SMK's participation in
the new coalition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15, 21, and 22
October 1998). The coalition agreement is expected to be
signed on 27 October. MS

POLISH PREMIER IN HUNGARY. Jerzy Buzek and his Hungarian
counterpart, Viktor Orban, agreed in Budapest on 22
October that the two countries and the Czech Republic
must coordinate policies related to NATO accession,
Hungarian media reported on 24 October. Another meeting
of the three countries' premiers will be held in Warsaw
next year. Buzek said Hungarian and Polish experts will
conduct talks to resolve the grain import dispute
between the two countries and other issues related to
agriculture. MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

BREAKTHROUGH IN BELGRADE? British Foreign Secretary
Robin Cook said in Luxembourg on 26 October that NATO
Generals Wesley Clark and Klaus Naumann made a
"significant advance" during their talks with Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic and army chief-of-staff
General Momcilo Perisic in Belgrade during the two
previous days. Cook added that top alliance officials
will discuss the results of those talks in Brussels on
27 October, but he stressed that it remains to be seen
whether Milosevic will keep his word to the two
generals. On 25 October in Belgrade, an unnamed diplomat
accompanying Clark and Naumann said that the two were
not conducting "negotiations" with the Serbs "but rather
discussions on [Serbian] compliance with UN Security
Council directives," Reuters reported. A NATO deadline
for Serbia to comply with UN Security Council resolution
1199 or face air strikes is slated to expire on 27
October. PM

U.S. SAYS SERBIA NOT COMPLYING. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright and National Security Adviser Sandy
Berger said in separate television interviews on 25
October that Milosevic has not met UN demands that he
withdraw his paramilitary police forces from Kosova.
Berger added that General Clark has the authority to
"take military action" against Serbia if NATO concludes
that Milosevic has not met his obligations. The
following day, OSCE observers told Reuters that both the
Serbs and the Kosova Liberation Army are continuing to
"build up [their forces] in some sensitive areas." AP
quoted ethnic Albanian refugees as saying that Serb-led
forces withdraw when diplomatic monitors appear and then
return to harass civilians after the foreigners leave.
PM

UN PASSES COMPROMISE RESOLUTION ON KOSOVA. On 24
October, the Security Council passed a resolution that
allows NATO to take action to protect and evacuate
international monitors in Kosova in case of an
emergency. In response to Russian and Chinese
objections, the council earlier deleted references in
the original draft resolution that permit NATO to take
"appropriate steps" to ensure that Milosevic carries out
the provisions set down in resolution 1199 in September.
British and U.S. diplomats said in New York that NATO
nonetheless has the right to ensure compliance. In
Prishtina on 25 October, shadow-state President Ibrahim
Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova said in a statement
that the latest resolution is "inadequate" and that the
Kosovars expect tough measures against the Belgrade
authorities, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

NATO PLANS BASE IN MACEDONIA. Macedonian Defense
Minister Lazar Kitanovski said in Skopje on 23 October
that NATO experts spent the previous two days inspecting
the military airfield at Kumanovo, which is northeast of
Skopje, as a possible base for 100 to 150 NATO
personnel. Kitanovski added that NATO wants the facility
to support its aerial surveillance mission over Kosova
and the 2,000 unarmed civilian monitors there. The
minister did not specify if NATO wants to base fighter
aircraft or "rapid reaction" troops there to rescue
monitors who are taken hostage or who otherwise become
endangered. Nor is it clear whether NATO has discussed
its plans with officials of the opposition coalition,
which won the first round of parliamentary voting on 18
October and appears likely to form a new government
after the second round on 1 November (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 23 October 1998). PM

SERBIA CONTINUES MEDIA CRACKDOWN. Serbian government
officials raided the offices of the Belgrade independent
daily "Dnevni Telegraf" during the night of 25-26
October, the VOA reported. On 24 October, government
officials imposed a fine of $230,000 on the weekly
"Evropljanin." Editor-in-chief Slavko Curuvija, who also
heads "Dnevni Telegraf," said that he does not have the
money and would not pay if he did. Curuvija is charged
with violating the new law regulating the independent
media, which expands an earlier decree that the
authorities used to shut down several independent
dailies and broadcasters (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21
October 1998). Spokesmen for the independent media said
that the authorities are also planning to ban those
media from posting on the Internet. Meanwhile in
Opatija, some 60 members of the Croatian Journalists'
Society signed a declaration in support of their Serbian
colleagues, "Vjesnik" reported on 26 October. PM

U.S. URGES CROATIA TO REFORM MILITARY. Robert Gelbard,
who is the U.S. special envoy for the former Yugoslavia,
said in Zagreb on 23 October that he is pleased with his
talks with new Defense Minister Pavao Miljavac but will
judge Miljavac by his deeds. Gelbard stressed that
Croatia must scale down the size of its military
establishment and make its affairs more transparent. He
added that Croatia cannot expect to joint Euro-Atlantic
structures unless it meets Western standards of civilian
control over the military. Miljavac said that his main
priority is transparency. Some Western diplomats in
Zagreb had earlier expressed concern over the
appointment of Miljavac, who had to give up his
general's commission on being appointed. PM

ANKICA TUDJMAN SAYS MONEY IS 'ROYALTIES.' Ankica
Tudjman, who is the wife of President Franjo Tudjman,
said in Zagreb on 24 October that the $130,000 she
deposited in an account at the Zagrebacka Banka earlier
this year and similar sums she deposited in previous
years are royalties her husband received from his books.
She maintained that the bank records can verify her
statement. This is the first time she has spoken out in
conjunction with a growing scandal involving her
family's hidden wealth (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23
October 1998). The previous day, the parliament passed a
law on salaries of state officials. President Tudjman
will earn $5,700 per month, which is one-third less than
the government originally proposed. The average monthly
income in Croatia is $450, and pensioners and some war
veterans make considerably less. PM

MUSLIM DETHRONED AS MISS CROATIA. Organizers held a new
vote for Miss Croatia in Zagreb on 25 October to replace
a previous ballot that the organizers claim was invalid.
The winner in the original vote was Lejla Sehovic, a
Muslim, who charged that her victory was invalidated
because of her ethnicity (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19
October 1998). The winner in the second vote was Ivana
Petkovic, an ethnic Croat. AP described the 25 October
ceremony as "surreal" and reported that both Sehovic and
Petkovic seemed embarrassed by the developments. PM

SUSPECTED EMBASSY BOMBER KILLED IN ALBANIA. Selam
Muhamet Omar Al Sead, a suspected Islamist organizer of
the U.S. embassy bombings in eastern Africa in early
August, was shot dead in Tirana on 24 October.
"Shekulli" reported that the Egyptian citizen committed
suicide in the face of imminent arrest. According to
dpa, however, unspecified Tirana dailies claim that
police killed the suspect in a shoot-out. The police
have since issued a statement denying they killed the
man and adding that a police officer suffered gunshot
wounds from a pistol fired by the suspect. Owing to lax
immigration laws, Islamists have been able to use
Albania as a base in recent years. Assisted by the CIA,
local police launched a crackdown on fundamentalist
terrorists in mid-summer (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13
August 1998). FS

FIRST PRIVATE INTERNET PROVIDER IN ALBANIA. The 2K
company has been granted a license by the government's
telecommunications licensing body to provide Internet
access to private and commercial users. 2K pledged to
invest $360,000 in the project, "Albanian Daily News"
reported. Previously, only the United Nations
Development Program and the Open Society Foundation
operated full-fledged Internet servers in Albania. Those
servers were accessed only by non-governmental
organizations, government agencies, Tirana University,
and other educational institutions. FS

LOW TURNOUT INVALIDATES BUCHAREST MAYORAL ELECTIONS.
Unofficial results suggest that low turnout has
invalidated the 25 October Bucharest mayoral elections,
which are likely to be repeated on 1 November, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported the next day. At least 50
percent plus one must participate in the elections for
the ballot to be valid. Turnout at 867 out of a total
1,175 ballot stations is put at 34.2 percent. National
Peasant Party Christian Democratic candidate and acting
Bucharest Mayor Viorel Lis is leading the field, with
41.7 percent. He is followed by independent candidate
George Padure (19.6 percent), Party of Social Democracy
in Romania candidate Sorin Oprescu (18.9), Greater
Romania Party candidate Nicolae Nitu (6.9), and
Democratic Party candidate Alexandru Sassu (4.7
percent). Each of the other 17 candidates gained less
than 2 percent of the vote. MS

ROMANIA OFFERS PARTICIPATION IN KOSOVA VERIFICATION
MISSION. The Supreme National Defense Council on 25
October offered the dispatch of 2,000 monitors and one
Antonov-30 military reconnaissance aircraft to take part
in the verification mission in Kosova, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. President Emil Constantinescu
chaired the meeting. In other news, visiting French
Defense Minister Alain Richard and his Romanian
counterpart, Victor Babiuc, signed an agreement on 24
October on bilateral military cooperation. MS

KUCHMA PROPOSES SUMMIT ON TRANSDNIESTER. Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma said in Chisinau on 23 October
that he has proposed to Moldovan President Petru
Lucinschi and separatist leader Igor Smirnov that the
Transdniester problem be settled at a summit meeting,
Infotag and BASA-press reported. Kuchma, who met with
Lucinschi and Smirnov, said Moldova, the Transdniester
region, Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE must participate
in the summit. He also said he has requested that
Smirnov pardon Ilie Ilascu, who was sentenced to death
by a Transdniester court in 1992 for alleged terrorism
and is still in jail. At the end of their summit meeting
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 1998), Lucinschi,
Kuchma, and Romanian President Emil Constantinescu
signed agreements on cooperation in combating organized
crime and on setting up a free trade zone in the lower
Danube region. MS

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NATO AIRSPACE USE. The
parliament on 23 October voted by 150-47 to approve a
resolution allowing NATO to use Bulgarian airspace if
the alliance launches air strikes against Yugoslavia, AP
and ITAR-TASS reported. All parliamentary groups, with
the exception of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist
Party, approved the resolution. Earlier this month, NATO
asked Bulgaria to allow unlimited access to its airspace
for possible military operations in Yugoslavia. Both the
Bulgarian National Security Council, headed by President
Petar Stoyanov, and the government approved that
request. The parliament's resolution also called for
settling the Kosova conflict by peaceful means and said
Bulgaria will not participate directly or indirectly in
military actions in Yugoslavia. MS

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