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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 234, Part II, 7 December 1998


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 2, No. 234, Part II, 7 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 SHAKEUP CONTINUES

* SWISS JUDGE CHARGES LAZARENKO WITH MONEY-LAUNDERING

* NATO FORCE DEPLOYS TO MACEDONIA
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

BELARUSIAN GOVERNMENT SHAKEUP CONTINUES. President
Alyaksandr Lukashenka has appointed Ural Latypov to head
an enlarged Foreign Ministry, RFE/RL's Belarusian
service reported on 4 December. Lukashenka's press
service said that Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich,
Minister of Foreign Economic Relations Mikhail Marinich,
and CIS Affairs Minister Valentyn Velychka have all been
sacked. Ivan Pashkevich, the deputy head of the
president's administration, said the duties of Velychka
and Marinich will be integrated into the new Foreign
Ministry. Pashkevich added that Antanovich's removal
does not mean "that the president is unsatisfied with
his work" but that the country is faced with "new,
concrete economic tasks--promoting goods in new
markets." Latypov, who had been Lukashenka's foreign
affairs adviser, worked for the KGB from 1974-1989. The
changes follow those made last week (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 3 December 1998). PB

FORMER PRIME MINISTER TO STAND AGAINST LUKASHENKA.
Mikhail Chyhir said on 5 December that he will run for
the Belarusian presidency in the next presidential
elections, RFE/RL's Belarusian service reported. In
interviews published by the independent newspapers
"Narodnaya Volya" and "Svobodniye Novosti," Chyhir said
he "knows what should be done to stop the collapse of
the country [and] the mass impoverishment of the
people." He said he hopes for support from "clear-
thinking" directors of political parties, factories,
collective farms, and non-government organizations.
Chyhir, who resigned as premier in November 1996 in
protest at President Lukashenka's policies, said the
state budget will collapse, hyperinflation will take
effect, and stores will be empty if current policies
continue. According to the 1994 constitution,
Lukashenka's term expires in eight months. But in a
constitutional referendum two years ago, his term was
extended until 2001. PB

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION MARKS HUMAN RIGHTS ANNIVERSARY.
Several hundred people marched in Minsk on 6 December to
commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, AP reported. Oleh
Belyavsky, the main organizer of the protest, alleges
that some 500 people have been unjustly arrested or
beaten this year and that thousands have been
"politically repressed" during the four years of
President Lukashenka's rule. In other news, Belarusian
authorities announced on 4 December that charges of
malicious hooliganism against Belarusian Popular Front
youth leader Paval Sevyarynets have been dropped,
Belapan reported. They cited "a change in circumstances"
as the reason for that move. PB

BELARUSIAN LINGUISTS DISCUSS CODIFICATION OF BANNED
SPELLING. Some 20 Belarusian linguists, journalists, and
editors met at RFE/RL headquarters in Prague on 5-6
December to discuss the codification of traditional
Belarusian orthography, which was banned by the Soviet
regime in 1933 and revived in Belarus in the late 1980s.
According to Belarusian linguists, the 1933 ban
suppressed the development of the Belarusian language by
artificially bringing it closer to Russian in terms of
both vocabulary and spelling. Editor Syarhey Dubavets,
whose "Nasha Niva" is being sued by the Belarusian
government for using the banned spelling (see "RFE/RL,"
10 August 1998), told RFE/RL that the conference was a
"very optimistic event for all those believing in the
revival of the Belarusian language." JM

SWISS JUDGE CHARGES LAZARENKO WITH MONEY-LAUNDERING. A
Swiss judge on 4 December charged former Ukrainian
Premier Pavlo Lazarenko with money-laundering, AFP
reported. Lazarenko has been detained and will remain in
custody in Geneva until his trial. The judge said a
"relatively large" amount of money has been seized in
Geneva. Lazarenko, who was arrested last week (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December 1998), denies the charges
and claims the whole affair is an attempt to discredit
him and his Hromada party ahead of next year's
elections. Two members of Hromada flew to Switzerland on
5 December to "clarify" the incident. PB

WORLD BANK CRITICIZES UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT FOR DELAYS.
Paul Siegelbaum, the World Bank's director for Ukraine
and Belarus, said today he is concerned that the
parliament in Kyiv is blocking World Bank projects, AP
reported on 4 December. Siegelbaum said several projects
have been neither ratified nor begun. He added that the
bank will suspend $140 million in energy loans unless
the Constitutional Court overrules a recent
parliamentary ban on raising utility costs. In other
news, the Ukrainian News Agency reports that President
Leonid Kuchma has ordered the government to study a
possible floating exchange rate for the hryvna next
year, perhaps as soon as January. The National Bank has
opposed such a move. PB

TALLINN MEETING HAILED AS 'BREAKTHROUGH' IN ESTONIAN-
RUSSIAN TIES. The first-ever meeting of the Estonian-
Russian intergovernment commission has been hailed by
both sides as a "breakthrough" in bilateral relations,
ETA and BNS reported on 4 December. Commission co-chair
and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko
commented after the meeting that Russia and Estonia
"inherited a heavy burden from the past, which can be
got rid of by enough time, honesty, and persistence,"
according to ETA. Her co-chair, Estonian Prime Minister
Mart Siimann, was quoted as saying that the meeting took
place in a "very open, honest environment." Matvienko
also said that high customs tariffs imposed by Russia on
Estonian goods could be reduced by next summer.
President Lennart Meri, meanwhile, told Matvienko that
the development of Estonian-Russian relations will
depend on Russia's revising its stance on the 1940
occupation. Moscow has not yet acknowledged that the
Baltic States were forcibly incorporated into the Soviet
Union. JC

RUSSIAN DUMA TO SEND DOCUMENT TO LATVIAN LAWMAKERS.
Russian State Duma deputy Gennadii Raikov, addressing an
international conference in Riga on 5 December, said the
Duma is drafting a document expressing satisfaction with
the results of the 3 October referendum on amendments to
the Latvian citizenship law. Raikov said the document
will urge that Latvia respect the "interests of the
majority," which voted in favor of the amendments. He
added that the Duma is planning to approve the document
on 9 December. JC

LITHUANIA ADOPTS DEFICIT-FREE BUDGET FOR NEXT YEAR.
Following a six-week debate, the Lithuanian parliament
has adopted a balanced budget for 1999, BNS reported on
3 December. The vote was 70 to 27 with seven
abstentions. Finance Minister Algirdas Semeta commented
that it is Lithuania's first balanced budget since 1993.
"The key feature of next year's budget is the
implementation of a savings program that will provide
for maintaining macro-economic stability," he said. The
government anticipates 10.3 billion litas (some $2.6
billion) in revenues, an increase of 11.7 percent
compared with this year. GDP growth is estimated at 5.5
percent and annual inflation at 5 percent. JC

LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR ANTI-SUICIDE CAMPAIGN.
Valdas Adamkus has called for a nationwide campaign to
reduce the country's suicide rate, AP reported on 4
December. Some 1,700 people out of a population of 3.7
million have committed suicide so far this year. That is
equivalent to some 45 suicides per 100,000 people, one
of the highest rates in the world. Presidential
spokeswoman Violeta Gaizauskaite said that Adamkus has
asked private institutes and government agencies to
develop a nationwide suicide prevention program. JC

GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER SEES EARLY NATO ACCESSION.
Rudolf Scharping said in Warsaw on 5 December that
Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary may officially
join NATO before the planned date in April, dpa
reported. Scharping said the early admission of the
three would allow them to participate in formulating
NATO strategy. Scharping also met with Defense Minister
Janusz Onyszkiewicz and Foreign Minister Bronislaw
Geremek during his two-day visit. In other news, a man
found frozen to death in western Poland on 6 December
was the 90th victim of the cold snap in that country. PB

CZECH OFFICIALS WITHDRAW CHARGE AGAINST FORMER VIENNA
MAYOR. Helmut Zilk has been cleared of accusations that
he collaborated with communist Czechoslovakia's secret
police in the 1960s, the Czech embassy in Vienna
announced on 4 December. Those accusations were made in
the German press in October, prompting Czech President
Vaclav Havel to withdraw a top state award that Zilk was
to have received at a special ceremony. The Czech
embassy in Vienna told Reuters that an investigation has
shown there was "no substance" to the charges. It added
that Zilk has been invited to meet with Havel in Prague
on 8 December. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan
expressed his regret over the incident to the Austrian
ambassador to Prague. MS

CZECH PREMIER SAYS PAST MUST NOT BURDEN RELATIONS WITH
GERMANY. Milos Zeman on 6 December told CTK that the
social democratic governments of the Czech Republic and
Germany will be able to find a common language on issues
related to the future without burdening them "with the
past." Zeman was responding to German Deputy Foreign
Minister Guenter Verheugen's statement at the German-
Czech Discussion Forum in Dresden on 5 December that the
German government still considered the post-war
expulsion of Sudeten Germans an injustice with which
Czechs will have to come to terms. At the same time,
Verheugen said that the new German cabinet will not
press property claims against the Czech Republic, since
the issue is of a moral and political, rather than
legal, nature. MS

MECIAR QUITS PUBLIC LIFE. Former Premier Vladimir Meciar
said in a statement on 4 December that he will quit
public life entirely and "will not contest any position
in the state administration in the future," Reuters
reported. Meciar said he will not run for the post of
Slovak president and that "at a time which I shall set
myself, I shall leave public life and go into solitude."
MS

DISMISSED SLOVAK AMBASSADOR TO CANADA REFUSES TO LEAVE
EMBASSY. Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan on 6 December
chastised Zdenka Kramplova for ignoring orders to return
to Slovakia, RFE/RL's Bratislava bureau reported.
Kramplova resigned as foreign minister in September and
was appointed ambassador to Canada by the previous
cabinet, headed by Meciar. In late October, the new
cabinet, headed by Mikulas Dzurinda, recalled Kramplova
and ordered her to return to the Foreign Ministry in
Bratislava. Kukan told TV Markiza that as Kramplova is
ignoring that order, he intends to resolve the matter
"radically." Her unauthorized use of diplomatic
property, he added, is costing the Slovak taxpayer
"hundreds of thousands of Slovak crowns." MS

HUNGARIAN EXTREME RIGHT PARTY RE-ELECTS LEADER. The
national congress of the far-right Hungarian Justice and
Life Party (MIEP) has re-elected Istvan Csurka as the
party's chairman, Hungarian media reported on 7
December. At the same time, Lukacs Szabo, who earlier
had questioned the party's finances, was expelled from
the MIEP, which called on him to return his
parliamentary seat to the party. Szabo said his
expulsion will leave the party one seat short of the
minimum needed to form a parliamentary group, commenting
that "Csurka has not only smashed the parliamentary
group but also the party." MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

NATO FORCE DEPLOYS TO MACEDONIA. Four French Hercules
transport aircraft arrived at Petrovec military airport
on 6 December with the first 30 French troops from
NATO's rapid reaction force for Kosova and 40 tons of
equipment, AP reported. The force will rescue any of the
2,000 unarmed OSCE civilian monitors in Kosova should
they run into danger. The NATO mission is expected to
reach its full strength of 1,700 by the beginning of
1999 and will consist of 700 French, 350 British, 250
German, 200 Italian, and 200 Dutch soldiers and
officers. In Brussels, the Atlantic alliance issued a
statement on 5 December saying that "the deployment of
the extraction force in no way relieves the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia government of its primary
responsibility for the safety and security of the OSCE
verifiers." PM

UCK STANDS BY DEMAND FOR INDEPENDENCE... The Kosova
Liberation Army (UCK) said in a statement in Prishtina
on 4 December that it "rejects any solution for the
Kosova crisis that falls short of full independence" for
the province. In recent weeks, some Kosovar spokesmen
have said that the Kosovars would "temporarily" accept
the status of a republic within the Yugoslav federation
provided that a referendum on independence would take
place after two or three years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1
December 1998). PM

...WHILE MODERATES SLAM HILL PLAN. Fehmi Agani, who
heads the negotiating team appointed by shadow-state
president Ibrahim Rugova, told the Belgrade daily "Glas"
of 7 December that U.S. envoy Chris Hill's latest plan
for an interim settlement is not acceptable to the
Kosovars. Agani added that "we had some objections to
the previous version too, but this one is totally
unacceptable.... It is obvious that Hill offers one
solution after talking to us and another after talking
to [Serbian President Milan] Milutinovic." Agani did not
elaborate. Kosovar spokesman Mehmet Hajrizi said that
the plan gives too much power to Belgrade at the expense
of Prishtina, Reuters reported. An unnamed Serbian
source told the news agency that the latest changes in
the Hill plan are "cosmetic" and do not go far enough to
please Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December
1998). PM

EUROPEANS CALL U.S. ESCORT FOR SERBIAN POLICE
'EMBARRASSING.' Unnamed European diplomats told Reuters
in Prishtina on 5 December that the U.S. practice of
providing armed escorts for Serbian paramilitary police
reflects "bad judgment" and appears "incongruous" in the
eyes of the Kosovars (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December
1998). The European diplomats added that the U.S.
practice of escorting the Serbs into the Malisheva
region and elsewhere may lead to UCK reprisals against
Westerners. On 4 December, Chris Janowski, who is the
spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, said in Geneva that the Serbian police
presence in the Malisheva area discourages displaced
Kosovars from returning to their homes there. PM

CLINTON EXTENDS SANCTIONS. U.S. President Bill Clinton
sent a written statement to Congress on 5 December
extending the "outer wall" of sanctions against Serbia
for a further six months. The sanctions involve a freeze
on Serbian bank accounts and property rights abroad and
prevent Belgrade's return to membership in international
organizations. The measures are a response to Serbia's
policies regarding human rights, democracy and the
Hague-based war crimes tribunal. In Vienna the previous
day, Austrian Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel, who
holds the EU's rotating chair, told Serbian opposition
leader Zoran Djindjic that Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic "is part of the [region's] problem, not of the
solution," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 2 December 1998) PM

SERBIAN PARLIAMENT TO HIKE GOVERNMENT WAGES. The
legislature is slated to pass a bill on 7 December that
will raise the salaries of some government officials by
up to 300 percent and allow them to receive up to 85
percent of their pay after they retire, Reuters
reported. The president will receive 18 times the
average monthly income in Serbia, plus 20 percent. The
prime minister and the speaker of the parliament will
receive 18 times the average Serbian pay, government
ministers 15 times, and legislators 10 times. The law
applies to the retirement pay of former Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic. The average monthly income
in the impoverished country is $112. The government is
$1 billion behind in its payment of pensions. The
authorities recently introduced a package of taxes to
help fund the state budget. One-quarter of the proposed
new budget will go to the police, "Danas" reported. PM

WESTENDORP CONDEMNS BOSNIAN SERB VIOLENCE. In Sarajevo
on 5 December, the international community's Carlos
Westendorp said recent violence in the Republika Srpska
to protest the arrest of General Radislav Krstic for war
crimes is "unacceptable" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3
December 1998). Westendorp noted that two EU monitors
were attacked in Vlasenica and a UN vehicle damaged
there. He also criticized as inflammatory public remarks
by Mayor Stanimir Reljic of Vlasenica, which was
Krstic's headquarters during the Bosnian war. PM

LIMITED RESULTS FROM CROATIAN DONORS' CONFERENCE. A two-
day conference in Zagreb aimed at raising funds for
reconstruction and development yielded pledges of $25
million, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 5
December. The EU's representatives delayed "until the
last minute" their acceptance of an invitation to attend
in order to protest what they called discriminatory
legislation against returning Serbian refugees. The
government estimates that Croatia needs $2.5 billion to
repair damage sustained during the 1991-1995 conflict.
PM

ALBANIAN STUDENTS GO ON STRIKE... Several hundred
student supporters of the opposition Democratic Party
began a strike last week in Tirana and Shkodra, ahead of
the 8 December anniversary of the 1990 student revolt
that toppled communism, "Shekulli" reported on 6
December. They are demanding better living conditions,
the release of what they call "political prisoners," and
quicker results from the investigation into Azem
Hajdari's murder (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 December
1998). Many protesters have cut classes. In Shkodra,
protesting students threw stones at the university dean
on 4 December. According to dpa, the protests have
failed to gain massive support from among students.
Meanwhile, a student spokesmen said in Tirana that the
protesters will launch a hunger strike on 8 December
unless the government meets their demands. FS

...WHILE INTERIOR MINISTER WARNS OF UNREST. Petro Koci
told "Shekulli" of 6 December that police expect riots
during the 8 December student protests. He told the
newspaper that police are ready to prevent a repetition
of unrest that shook Tirana after the funeral of Hajdari
on 14 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September
1998). Koci stressed that the students' demands for
better living conditions are legitimate but that police
will not tolerate attacks against state institutions. He
said that opposition leaders and former President Sali
Berisha are seeking to use the students' movement]in
order to return to power." He added that Berisha "will
not succeed." FS

ROMANIAN COALITION PARTIES DIFFER OVER REFORM. Prime
Minister Radu Vasile and members of his government asked
President Emil Constantinescu on 5 December to use his
influence over parliamentary deputies from the ruling
coalition to ensure the passage of a far-reaching reform
program approved by the cabinet two days earlier. The
program calls for the immediate closure of 49 loss-
making enterprises. The leadership of the National
Peasant Party Christian Democratic said on 3 December
that the reform must be linked to property restitution.
The Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, and the
Hungarian Democratic Coalition of Romania said linking
the two issues will again lead to disputes at a time
when the reform measure package is urgently needed. MS

FIRST ROMANIAN STATE BANK PRIVATIZED. The Romanian Bank
for Development became the first Romanian bank to be
privatized when Societe Generale de France won a tender
for a majority stake in the bank on 3 December. Romanian
officials refused to give details, saying only they will
become known when the deal is officially signed on 15
December. Mediafax, citing AFP, reported on 6 December
that Societe Generale de France will pay $200 million
for a 51 percent stake. MS

COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFICIAL MEETS TIRASPOL MOLDOVAN
PRISONER. Josette Durrieux, deputy chairwoman of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the
assembly's rapporteur for Moldova, was allowed on 4
December to visit Ilie Ilascu, a Moldovan parliamentary
deputy who has been in prison since he was sentenced to
death in 1992 on charges of terrorism. Ilascu told
Durrieux that he is isolated from others sentenced at
the same time on terrorism charges and is seldom allowed
visits by members of his family. The visit did not take
place in the prison where he is being detained but in
what the Transdniester authorities called a "hotel,"
Durrieux said. She said Ilascu is apparently in good
physical shape and is mentally "very balanced," Radio
Bucharest reported. MS

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES PRIVATIZATION PLAN. The
parliament on 4 December approved a government plan
providing for the sale next year of state property worth
more than 996 billion leva ($595 million), dpa reported.
More than 1,000 state companies are to be sold under the
plan. The list, however, does not include the largest
state-owned firms such as the telephone giant BTK, the
oil refinery Neftochim, and the tobacco company
Bulgartabak. MS

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