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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 230, Part II, 1 December 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 230, Part II, 1 December 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

* BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO AVERT TRADE UNION
PROTEST

* U.S. GIVES 'ARMORED ESCORT' TO SERBIAN POLICE

* ROMANIA DENIES MILITARY CONTACT WITH IRAQ
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT TO ADOPT AMENDED BUDGET THIS MONTH.
Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko on 30 November
said that the Supreme Council plans to start considering
the 1999 budget on 2 December in order to adopt it no
later than 25 December, Ukrainian News reported. "It
will be far from the budget that would satisfy everyone
but it will comply with all the requirements of the
existing legislation," the agency quoted him as saying.
He added that the government-proposed budget revenues
could be increased by 20 percent "simply by improving
the quality of tax collection." AP reported on 30
November that the parliamentary budget committee is
revising budget figures to make the 1999 budget nearly
deficit-free. In particular, the parliament has cut
financing for the government and presidential
administration. The revised draft budget provides for
full payment of overdue wages and pensions. JM

BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO AVERT TRADE UNION
PROTEST. The 30 November "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta"
reported that the government is trying to stave off a
trade union protest action planned for 2 December. Some
30,000 people are expected to take part in the rally,
which is being organized by five trade unions from the
Belarusian Trade Union Federation. According to the
newspaper, Mikhail Myasnikovich, who heads the recently
established "national headquarters" to deal with the
economic crisis, has proposed negotiations in exchange
for the cancellation of the protest. The trade unions
demanded that the government announced on television
that negotiations will begin, but no such announcement
was forthcoming. Meanwhile, Deputy Premier Uladzimir
Zamyatalin ordered government officials to meet with
trade union leaders to explain the government's anti-
crisis policies. The newspaper concludes that the
government's response testifies to its fear of mass
protests. JM

BELARUSIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION REFUSES TO REGISTER PRO-
REFERENDUM GROUP. The Belarusian Central Electoral
Commission on 30 November refused to register a 1,117-
strong group calling for a referendum on the creation of
a Belarusian-Russian confederation (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 4 November 1998), RFE/RL's Belarusian Service
reported. The commission claimed that the group's
application contained false information with regard to
where it held its constituent meeting. Belarusian
Television reported that commission head Lidziya
Yarmoshyna has proposed that the referendum initiative
be examined by the Prosecutor-General's Office. JM

BELARUSIAN COURT OPENS TRIAL OF FORMER AGRICULTURAL
MANAGER. The trial of Vasil Staravoytau, former head of
the Rassvet collective farm in Kirauski Raion, opened at
a court in Mahilyou Oblast on 30 November, RFE/RL's
Belarusian Service reported. The judge said the
prosecution has submitted some 50 volumes of documentary
evidence showing that Staravoytau created an
"extortionist clique" that systematically robbed the
state. If convicted, Staravoytau faces a prison term of
up to 15 years. Staravoytau, who is 74 and suffered a
stroke during his one-year pre-trial detention,
collapsed in the courtroom steel cage in which he is to
remain during the trial. The court rejected an appeal by
the defense to release Staravoytau--a World War II
veteran and the recipient of the Soviet Union's highest
honors--on his recognizance. JM

ESTONIA'S MODERATES, PEOPLE'S PARTY TO MERGE...
Representatives of the opposition Moderate Party and
People's Party have agreed to propose to their parties'
boards and councils to launch a process that would lead
to the merger of the two parties, ETA and BNS reported
on 30 November. The first step in that direction would
be drawing up a joint list of candidates for the March
1999 general elections. The two parties had originally
planned to form an electoral alliance with the
Fatherland union, but last month the parliament voted to
ban such groupings (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 November
1998). Before that ban was announced, the three-party
bloc led in opinion polls. JC

...AND RUSSIAN PARTIES TO RUN ON JOINT LIST? Nikolai
Maspanov, the leader of the Russian Party in Estonia,
has called on other parties and organizations
representing Russian-speakers to join forces in what he
called a "joint Russian ticket," ETA and BNS reported on
30 November. Maspanov told BNS that by making maximum
use of voter potential, the Russian parties in Estonia
could win up to 20 mandates in the March 1999 general
elections. Those parties currently have a combined total
of six seats in the legislature. Also on 30 November,
BNS reported that the Russian Unity Party has appealed
to other parties in the parliament to support amendments
to the citizenship law, which are due to be put to the
final vote this month. Under those amendments, stateless
children who are under 15 and were born in Estonia after
26 February 1992 to stateless parents will virtually
automatically be granted citizenship. JC

LATVIA'S SAIMNIEKS PARTY HAS NEW CHAIRMAN. At its
extraordinary congress on 28 November, the Democratic
Party Saimnieks elected Andris Ameriks as its new
chairman, BNS reported two days later. Ziedonis Cevers
resigned from that post after the party's failure to
clear the 5 percent hurdle in the 3 October elections.
Cevers told the congress he will not take over any
elected posts in the party. Speaking to BNS, Ameriks did
not rule out the possibility that Saimnieks would join
forces with another political group in the future "while
preserving its identity." JC

LITHUANIAN PREMIER SOON TO MOSCOW? The Lithuanian-
Russian intergovernmental Cooperation Commission
convened in Vilnius at the end of last week and
completed drawing up seven agreements as well as a joint
statement by the two countries' prime ministers on the
liberalization of trade, BNS reported on 30 November.
Russian Transportation Minister Sergei Franko, who
together with Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister
Algirdas Saudargas heads the commission, commented that
the envisaged agreements will "surely stir up
Lithuanian-Russian economic relations." According to the
news agency, the commission also concluded that
Lithuanian Premier Gediminas Vagnorius will visit Moscow
"before long." JC

POLAND WANTS 10 YEARS TO LIBERALIZE PROPERTY MARKET. A
government official said on 30 November that Poland will
ask the EU for a 10-year transition period in order to
fully liberalize its real estate market, PAP reported.
The official said liberalization will take place without
state interference but under state supervision. Real
estate transactions in Poland last year amounted to 20.5
billion zlotys ($5.9 billion). JM

CZECH-SLOVAK MILITARY COOPERATION ACCORD SIGNED.
Visiting Slovak Defense Minister Pavol Kanis and his
Czech counterpart, Vladimir Vetchy, signed in Znojmo,
southern Moravia, on 30 November a protocol on
cooperation in the armaments industry, CTK reported.
Kanis said the same day that Vetchy informed him that
Prague will deploy soldiers at its eastern border in
order to step up the protection of the frontier, CTK
reported. Vetchy said the step is "by no means one
against Slovakia" but rather is aimed at preventing
refugees from Eastern Europe and Asia from illegally
crossing the frontier. Soldiers will probably also
protect the Czech-Austrian border, Vetchy said. He added
that he is currently discussing the setting up of
patrols by both the military and the border police with
Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich. MS

EUROPEAN COMMISSION DEPLORES CZECH MEASURES ON PORK
IMPORTS. The European Commission on 26 November said it
regretted the Czech government's decision earlier that
day to lift preferential duties on EU pork imports,
thereby raising the import tariff from 15 percent to
more than 40 percent. On 27 November, Czech farmers
protested cheap imports from the EU, blocking traffic in
smaller towns and villages across the country. They
argued that the measures announced by the government the
previous day were insufficient. MS

SLOVAKIA, HUNGARY AGREE TO REBUILD BRIDGE OVER DANUBE.
Visiting Hungarian Transport Minister Kalman Katona and
his Slovak counterpart, Gabriel Palacka, agreed on 30
November to rebuild a bridge between Esztergom and
Sturovo by 2002, Hungarian media report. Katona said
Palacka assured him that he will sign an agreement
already ratified by Hungary and the EU, under which the
European Commission will assist in rebuilding the bridge
to the tune of 5 million ecus ($5.7 million). Experts
from the two ministries will meet on 4 December in
Esztergom to discuss technical issues. MSZ

TORGYAN'S RELATIVES QUIT POSTS. Beatrix Hingyi,
daughter-in-law of Jozsef Torgyan, who is chairman of
the Independent Smallholders' Party and minister of
agriculture, has resigned her post on the board of
state-run Hungarian Airlines, some two weeks after her
appointment. Her mother also gave up her post as a board
member of the lottery company Szerencsejatek. Torgyan
said the resignations were in response to criticism in
the media and the parliament. He refused to comment on a
suggestion that Prime Minister Viktor Orban had
initiated the resignations. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

U.S. GIVES 'ARMORED ESCORT' TO SERBIAN POLICE. Reuters
on 1 December quoted unnamed U.S. diplomats as saying
that "U.S. observers have agreed to give an armored
escort to Serb police patrols that run through hostile
territory to [Malisheva] and keep the [Serbian
paramilitary] police base [there] provisioned." The
agency also reported that an unnamed senior U.S.
official said "the escorts make the Serbs feel more
comfortable as they haven't been attacked while we've
been accompanying them." U.S. diplomat William Walker,
who heads the OSCE verification mission in Kosova,
recently urged Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to
withdraw the local police garrison, which was not
stationed in Malisheva before the current conflict.
Milosevic said he will consider pulling the garrison out
but stressed the need to prevent the Kosova Liberation
Army (UCK) from retaking the area. U.S. diplomats
reportedly decided to escort the police to prevent the
UCK from regaining the upper hand. PM

WALKER EXPECTS MONITORS IN PLACE BY JANUARY. Walker told
a press conference in Prishtina on 30 November that he
expects all 2,000 unarmed OSCE "verifiers" to have
arrived in Kosova by 1 January. He added that "bringing
in 2,000 people from 54 countries is not an easy
function. We will be up and operational in a very robust
fashion within the next few weeks." Walker also noted
that a political settlement must be in place before the
monitors can begin one of their most important tasks,
namely organizing elections for offices to be determined
in the political settlement. U.S. envoy Chris Hill has
put forward a draft plan that would give Kosova a high
degree of autonomy at the provincial level, but a
Serbian draft concentrates autonomy at the local level
and gives all ethnic groups an equal political voice,
regardless of their respective sizes. In recent days, at
least three top Serbian officials have publicly said
that Hill's plan is unacceptable, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. PM

ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER PRAISES UCK'S FLEXIBILITY.
Paskal Milo told Reuters in Copenhagen on 30 November
that "it is important for the Albanians in Kosova to
play a part in their own future. The UCK is going to be
seen now as a political factor, not as military one." He
was referring to a statement by UCK political
representative Adem Demaci that his group is ready to
"temporarily" renounce demands for full independence in
exchange for an "interim" status as a federal Yugoslav
republic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November 1998). Milo
stressed that "all the main [ethnic Albanian] parties
and [politicians] are working...to convince [the UCK]
that it is not the time to ask for independence." He
added that the UCK must become "much more realistic,
moderate..., [and willing to seek] compromises.... We do
not have any other solution than...through dialogue." FS

CROATIAN POLICE INTERCEPT KOSOVA-BOUND ARMS. A police
spokesman in Sibenik said on 30 November that police
have discovered arms and ammunition worth $1 million in
warehouses near the harbor. The goods had arrived from
Bosnia and were awaiting shipment to the Albanian port
of Durres and then on to Kosova. Police arrested four
Bosnians and a Croat in conjunction with the incident,
but five other suspects, including at least one Kosovar,
remain at large. Interior Minister Ivan Penic said in
Zagreb that it was the largest weapons-smuggling
operation yet uncovered in Croatia and that the
operation was the work of organized criminal groups. PM

TUDJMAN TO MEET WITH OPPOSITION? Vladimir Seks, who is
the parliamentary faction leader for the governing
Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), said in Zagreb on
30 November that President Franjo Tudjman will soon meet
with representatives of the opposition coalition of six
parties. Seks added that opposition demands for changes
in the electoral law and for a parliamentary
investigation of the secret services will be on the
agenda. He added that Tudjman will meet separately with
representatives of other opposition parties, which are
mainly tiny, right-wing groups. On 28 November,
opposition coalition leader Vlado Gotovac said that the
leaders of the six parties want to meet with Tudjman in
his capacity as head of the HDZ and not as head of
state. He added that they do not want members of the
right-wing groups to be present. "Novi List" wrote on 30
November that the HDZ and opposition alike are playing
"tactical games" in the runup to the talks, which, the
Rijeka daily noted, may never take place. PM

CROATIA, SLOVENIA MOVING TOWARD SETTLEMENT. Croatian
Foreign Minister Mate Granic and his Slovenian
counterpart Boris Frlec told a press conference near
Ljubljana on 30 November that their one-day meeting
succeeded in clearing up all but one of the outstanding
questions involving the demarcation of their common land
border. They did not specify which issue remains, but
Frlec noted that the two solved the dispute over the
Sveta Gera mountain peak, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. The two sides hope to have a solution by
Christmas to their most important border problem, namely
the maritime frontier in the Gulf of Piran, "Novi List"
quoted Granic as saying. An agreement will probably be
signed soon on the ownership and use of the Krsko
nuclear power plant, which is in Slovenia but was built
partly with Croatian funding. Granic added, however,
that the dispute over Croatian accounts in a Slovenian
bank will most likely go to international arbitration.
PM

DEADLOCK CONTINUES IN BANJA LUKA. Hard-line deputy
Dragan Kalinic, whom Republika Srpska President Nikola
Poplasen has asked to form a government, said in Banja
Luka on 30 November that he has not yet succeeded in
putting together his cabinet. Spokesmen for the Social
Democrats called on Kalinic to let someone else try to
form a government because the hard-liners lack a
majority in the assembly, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported from the Bosnian Serb capital. The office of
the international community's Carlos Westendorp wants a
government led by moderate Serbs with the backing of
Muslim and Croatian deputies. PM

DISPUTE OVER HUMAN REMAINS IN SARAJEVO. A dispute
continues between Muslim and Serbian forensic experts
over the identification of 55 sets of remains exhumed
recently in two cemeteries in the Bosnian capital,
Reuters reported on 29 November. Bosnian Serb officials
charge that the persons were Serbian civilians who were
killed by Muslims during the 1992-1995 Serbian siege of
Sarajevo, according to "Vesti." Muslim spokesmen argue
that the identity of the dead has not been determined
and that they were most likely killed by renegade
Bosnian army units commanded by Musan Topalovic "Caco."
PM

ALBANIAN POLICE SHOOT SMUGGLER COLLEAGUE. Special police
forces killed a local policeman in a shoot-out near
Shkodra on 29 November, AP reported. The local policeman
and two of his colleagues had taken a customs official
hostage and begun shooting at the special police units.
Those police forces had seized three trucks loaded with
60 tons of corn and coffee smuggled into the country
from Montenegro. The dead policeman's brother was
wounded in the shoot-out. FS

ROMANIA DENIES MILITARY CONTACT WITH IRAQ. Spokesman for
both the Foreign and Defense Ministries on 30 November
denied any knowledge that Iraqi officials visited
Bucharest in May in a bid to purchase ballistic- missile
guidance systems from the Romanian Aerofina company. In
a statement released to the press, Aerofina said a CNN
report on 29 November was "erroneous." According to that
report, the negotiations lasted a week before ending in
failure and were monitored by the intelligence services
of the U.S., Romania, and Israel. Romanian Ambassador to
the U.S. Mircea Geoana has confirmed the report, telling
CNN that Aerofina negotiated with Iraq in 1995 and that
those responsible for those negotiations had been
"rapidly and severely reprimanded." Geoana said that
last May, Iraq tried to renew those contacts. Former
Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu and former Defense Minister
Gheorghe Tinca have both denied that in 1995 Romania
broke the embargo against Iraq. MS

IRON GUARD PLANS COMEBACK IN ROMANIA. The Legionary
Movement, also known as the Iron Guard, plans to
register as a political party in June 1999, Mediafax
reported on 29 November, quoting Nicador Zelea Codreanu,
a nephew of the fascist movement's interwar "Captain,"
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. Nicador Zelea Codreanu said the
new party will be called the National Union for
Christian Rebirth because the authorities would not
allow the movement to register under its old name. A
crowd of very old and very young "Guardists" gathered in
a forest at Tancabesti, near Bucharest, on 29 November
to mark the 60the anniversary of the assassination of
Corneliu Zelea Codreanu there on the orders of King
Carol II. MS

MOLDOVAN AGRARIANS ELECT NEW CHAIRMAN. An extraordinary
congress of the Democratic Agrarian Party of Moldova
(PDAM) elected Anatol Popusoi as its new chairman on 27
November, Infotag reported. Popusoi is considered to
belong to the PDAM's conservative wing. He replaces
Dumitru Motpan, who resigned after taking responsibility
for the party's disastrous performance in the May 1998
elections. Formerly the largest parliamentary group, the
PDAM failed to win representation in the new
legislature. MS

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES SLASHING THREE ZEROES FROM
CURRENCY. The government on 30 November approved a draft
law that would remove three zeroes from the national
currency, the lev, as of 1 July, Reuters reported. The
draft law implements a decision taken in August by the
cabinet and the Currency Board (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 10
August 1998). Finance Minister Muravei Radev said the
government does not expect inflation to rise because of
the re-denomination. MS

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