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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 15, Part II, 22 January 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 15, Part II, 22 January 1999

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

* UKRAINE'S FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT

* ROMANIAN PRESIDENT POSTPONES STATE OF EMERGENCY

* MILOSEVIC BACKS DOWN ON WALKER EXPULSION
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE'S FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT.
Three Ukrainian right-of-center parties--the Popular
Rukh, the Republican Christian Party, and the Reform and
Order Party--have announced that former Foreign Minister
Hennadiy Udovenko will be their joint candidate in the
presidential elections later this year, Interfax
reported on 21 January. Rukh leader Vyacheslav Chornovil
and Reform and Order Party head Viktor Pynzenyk told a
news conference on 21 January that the parties are now
working on preparing Udovenko's election campaign,
which, they said, will be conducted "tactfully." They
added that candidates of other right-of-center parties
stand no chance of winning the presidential elections
unless those parties form a single election bloc.
Udovenko told the same news conference that he is "ready
for victory" and has received letters of support from
various public organizations. JM

LUHANSK OBLAST MINERS LAUNCH NEW PROTEST. Miners in
Luhansk Oblast have begun a protest action over unpaid
wages, Ukrainian Television reported on 21 January. The
protest action, according to Ukrainian Television, is
not on such a large scale as those that lasted for five
months in 1998, but it involves miners from various
mines in the region. Some 200 miners are picketing a
coal mining company building in Antratsyt to demand wage
arrears for March through August 1998. Twenty miners in
Krasnodon have launched an underground strike, while
eight female workers laid off by a coal mining company
in Stakhanov have gone on a hunger strike. JM

LUKASHENKA SEES BELARUS-RUSSIA UNION AS COUNTERWEIGHT TO
U.S.... Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka,
addressing a session of the Belarusian-Russian Union
Parliamentary Assembly in Minsk on 21 January, said the
union must become "a real counterbalance to the
currently established unipolar world and a powerful
engine for breaking up aggressive trans-Antlantic
monopolism," Belarusian Television reported. Lukashenka
warned against the U.S.'s growing influence in global
politics, saying that the U.S. "has appropriated the
right of substituting international organizations." He
added that the strengthening of the Belarusian-Russian
union offers a "historic chance for the survival of an
integral Slavic civilization." The session granted
Yugoslavia permanent observer status in the Belarusian-
Russian legislative body. Serbian Deputy Premier
Vojislav Seselj called that decision a "major event for
the whole Serbian nation" and hailed Lukashenka as "the
pride of all Slavic people." JM

...SLAMS RUSSIA FOR SLOW INTEGRATION. Lukashenka also
criticized Russia for not keeping pace with Belarus in
providing economic support for a union state. He accused
the eastern neighbor of not purchasing Belarusian goods
and unilaterally introducing customs barriers, despite
the customs union. "Soon no one is going to see us as an
independent state, while we still haven't seen concrete
results from Russia," Reuters quoted him as saying. "We
have been offended even by the new [Russian] government
lately," Lukashenka added, apparently alluding to the
recent fees imposed on Belarusian trucks with cargo from
a third country (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 January
1999). Lukashenka said the future Belarusian-Russian
union state could be headed by Russian Premier Yevgenii
Primakov or State Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev, but
he added that it would be better "to ask our people" who
will head the union. JM

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN TALLINN. Borys Tarasyuk
was in the Estonian capital on 21 January to discuss
bilateral relations, which he described as "good," ETA
reported. In his talks with Estonian officials,
particular attention was paid to Kyiv's introduction of
quotas on meat imports from Estonia, which ETA describes
as the main problem in Estonian-Ukrainian relations.
Over the past three years, Estonian meat imports to
Ukraine have increased five-fold. The two countries
recently set up a joint committee to determine whether
the 1995 free trade agreement between the two countries
is being properly implemented. JC

RUSSIAN PATRIARCH PREPARED TO MEDIATE ESTONIAN CHURCH
DISPUTE. Returning from a two-day visit to Moscow,
Population Minister Andra Veidemann said on 21 January
that Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Aleksii II has
agreed to meet with representatives of Estonian
Apostolic Orthodox Church, which is subordinated to
Constantinople, to discuss the split between the two
Orthodox Churches in Estonia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13
January 1999). Veidemann, who met with the head of the
Russian Church during her visit to Moscow, added that
the patriarch is ready to make "compromises." JC

THIRTEEN POLITICAL PARTIES TO COMPETE IN ESTONIAN
ELECTIONS. By the 21 January deadline for registering to
run in the March elections, the Central Election
Commission had received registration documents from 13
political parties and 21 independent candidates, BNS and
ETA reported. A total of 1,923 people are to compete for
the 101 seats in the unicameral parliament. JC

LATVIAN PARLIAMENT TO ESTABLISH COMMISSION ON
LATTELEKOM. Lawmakers voted by 78 to two with four
abstentions on 21 January to set up a commission to
examine the implementation of an agreement between the
government and the Tilts Communications consortium, a
major investor in the telecommunications monopoly
Lattelekom, according to BNS and "Diena." The commission
is also to determine whether plans to increase telephone
rates and the activities of the Council on
Telecommunications Tariffs, which approved those hikes,
conform with the law on telecommunications. The move
follows widespread public protests over the planned
hikes, which many deputies, including from the Social
Democrats, argued are "unjustified." JC

LITHUANIAN OPPOSITIONISTS ASK COURT TO RULE ON 1999
BUDGET. Thirty-five lawmakers have appealed to the
Constitutional Court to rule on whether this year's
budget complies with the basic law, BNS reported on 21
January. A leader of the Social Democratic Party, which
spearheaded the appeal, told journalists that the
signatories believe that reducing spending on health
care, education, social benefits, and agricultural
development programs that had been foreseen in earlier
legislation violates the constitution. This year's
budget is the first since 1991 to be balanced, according
to the news agency. JC

KRZAKLEWSKI DENIES SOLIDARITY WILL WITHDRAW
CONTROVERSIAL BILL. Marian Krzaklewski, leader of the
ruling Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), denied Polish
media reports on 21 January that the AWS has promised
its coalition partner, the Freedom Union, that in a bid
to overcome the coalition crisis, it will withdraw the
controversial bill on distributing state assets to all
citizens (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 January 1999).
Krzaklewski said work on the bill has been suspended
until the government presents its stance on the issue.
He stressed that the draft law was "one of the main
components of the AWS's program" and will be put into
effect "in accordance with the constitution...and
economic possibilities." JM

POLISH FARMERS BLOCK BORDER CHECKPOINT TO PROTEST FOOD
IMPORTS. Some 2,500 farmers erected road blocks at
Swiecko, a checkpoint on the Polish-German border, on 22
January, PAP reported. The farmers are seeking a ban on
food imports, saying that they lose money because of the
sale in Poland of food purchased in other countries. The
government says a total ban on food imports would
violate international trade agreements to which Poland
is a signatory. JM

KLAUS DISMISSES 'SPECULATION' ABOUT NEW COALITION. Civic
Democratic Party (ODS) chairman Vaclav Klaus on 20
January dismissed as "speculation" the likelihood of the
ODS's heading a coalition with the Christian Democrats
(KDU-CSL) and the Freedom Union to replace Milos Zeman's
minority government. Jan Ruml, head of the Freedom
Union, had recently referred to such a scenario.
Speaking on Czech Radio, Klaus said that the ODS-led
coalition would command a narrow majority of 102 seats
in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies and would be
unstable in view of the "centrifugal" tendencies of the
three parties. He also said KDU-CSL acting chairman Jan
Kasal and its parliamentary group leader, Karel Kuehnl,
had displayed an "aggressive, negative attitude" when he
met with them last month. MS

CZECH PROSECUTORS SEEK TOUGHER SENTENCES FOR SKINHEADS.
Prosecutors will demand tougher sentences for racially
motivated crimes if these are committed by skinheads,
CTK reported on 21 January, quoting Ivo Istvan, a senior
prosecutor in Olomouc. Istvan said that prosecutors in
Moravia have agreed to do so in order to "give a clear
signal" that crimes by skinheads will not be tolerated.
MS

SLOVAK PREMIER WANTS EU ACCESSION TALKS THIS YEAR.
Mikulas Dzurinda, addressing a meeting of the joint
Slovak-EU Parliamentary Committee in Bratislava on 21
January, said his country "will do everything" in its
power to be admitted to accession talks with the EU at
the December 1999 Helsinki EU summit, CTK and AP
reported. He said his government has prepared a 90-point
"action plan" aimed at achieving EU integration. And he
expressed confidence that implementation of the plan
will help boost his country's chances for integration
into the EU. MS

HUNGARY, U.S. DISCUSS NATO PREPARATIONS. Hungarian
Defense Minister Janos Szabo met with U.S. Defense
Secretary William Cohen in Washington on 21 January to
discuss Hungary's future role in NATO. Szabo assured
Cohen that the October parliamentary resolution allowing
NATO to use Hungary's air space in the event of military
action against Yugoslavia is still in force. In other
news, Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath told
journalists on 21 January that Hungary has adopted the
EU's position on the Recak massacre in Kosova. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

MILOSEVIC BACKS DOWN ON WALKER EXPULSION... The Yugoslav
government announced late on 21 January that it will
suspend its order on the expulsion of William Walker,
the head of the OSCE's verification mission in Kosova.
In a statement, Belgrade said that decision was
influenced in particular by appeals from Russian
President Boris Yeltsin and UN Secretary-General Koffi
Annan. Walker had said he would not leave the province,
and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warned
that the entire OSCE monitoring team, numbering more
than 800 people, would leave Kosova if Walker were
expelled. Knut Vollebaek, Norwegian foreign minister and
chairman of the OSCE, said that despite the suspension,
the threat of NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia
remains. "The NATO activation order is still thereŠand I
think President [Slobodan] Milosevic understands that
very well." Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr
Avdeev said in London that "it is impossible to solve
national, ethnic problems and regional conflicts by
means of force" (see also Part I). PB

ŠBUT REMAINS UNCOMPROMISING ON OTHER ISSUES. U.S.
special envoy for Kosova James Pardew and U.S. mediator
Christopher Hill said after a four-hour meeting with
Milosevic on 21 January that the Yugoslav president
"remains inflexible on all key compliance issues,"
Reuters reported. Hill added that "we had lengthy,
difficult discussionsŠwe are going through a rather
tense period." Pardew said Milosevic denies that Serbs
were involved in the killings of the 45 ethnic Albanians
found dead in the village of Recak on 15 January. OSCE
chairman Vollbaek also met with Milosevic in an effort
to get Belgrade to comply with the October cease-fire
agreement, which calls for a reduction in Serbian
security forces in Kosova and for war crimes
investigators to be allowed to probe sites of alleged
massacres. PB

CONTACT GROUP OFFERS NEW STRATEGY TO SOLVE CRISIS.
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said on 21 January
in London that the West has new proposals for a
settlement of the Kosova crisis, although it will still
act militarily if Serbian attacks on ethnic Albanians do
not stop, Reuters reported. Cook, speaking before a
meeting of the six-nation Contact Group for Yugoslavia,
said the group has developed a detailed plan that would
give Kosova its own internal government and police
force, and would allow for free elections. The
province's status would be reviewed after three years.
Cook said if the Contact Group approved the document,
"we would invite both sides to meet in the next week,
challenging them to get down to negotiate." Cook said
any military action by NATO "must be in support of a
clear political demand and a clear political process."
PB

FINNISH TEAM IN PRISHTINA FOR AUTOPSIES. Several members
of a Finnish forensics team arrived in Prishtina on 21
January to join Yugoslav and Belarusian pathologists in
conducting autopsies on the bodies of the 45 ethnic
Albanians believed to have been massacred at Recak,
Radio B-92 reported. Finnish team head Helena Ranta said
they have begun X-raying some of the bodies already
examined by the Yugoslav team. She said it could take 10
days to complete the work. British Foreign Secretary
Robin Cook agreed with the opinion of OSCE mission head
Walker, saying that "these people were executed. Serbia
cannot simultaneously claim that they [the Serbs] were
not responsible but also refuse to let in the
international criminal tribunal (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
21 January 1999). PB

UCK ADMITS TO FIRING ON OSCE MONITORS. The OSCE demanded
on 21 January that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK)
identify and punish those responsible for shooting at
and injuring two OSCE verifiers, AFP reported. The OSCE
reported the same day that the UCK commander in the
Decani region admitted that his men were responsible for
an incident last week in which two OSCE monitors were
wounded. The UCK said the action was a
"misunderstanding." PB

UN DEMANDS DISMISSAL OF SERBIAN POLICEMEN. The UN
mission in Bosnia demanded on 21 January that Bosnian
Serb officials sack two senior policemen alleged to have
taken part in the torture of suspects and witnesses in a
murder investigation, Reuters reported. The UN made the
demand after publishing a report on the "interrogation
techniques" used during the probe into the August murder
of Srdjan Knezevic, the deputy police chief in Pale. The
UN policing office in Bosnia disqualified the two
officers last month but said they continue to "exercise
influence." PB

BOSNIAN SERB PLEADS INNOCENT AT THE HAGUE. Stevan
Todorovic, a former Bosnian Serb police chief, pleaded
innocent on 21 January to charges of murder, torture,
and rape during a campaign to ethnically cleanse the
northern Bosnian town of Bosanski Samac in 1992-93,
Reuters reported. Todorovic is being tried along with
three others, who have also pleaded innocent. He was
detained by NATO troops in September. PB

SLOVENIAN DEBT RISES. Slovenia's foreign debt increased
to nearly $5 billion by the beginning of December, the
news agency STA reported on 20 January. That figure
represents an increase of nearly $800 million from the
previous year. Ljubljana, however, has sharply decreased
its debt to international financial organizations, to
$78 million in 1998 from $223 million at the end of
1997. In other news, Slovenia's Economic Relations and
Development Minister Marjan Senjur signed an economic
cooperation pact with his South Korean counterpart, Hong
Sun-yong, in Seoul on 21 January, Yonhap news agency
reported. The agreement will allow both countries to
receive most-favored-nation status. PB

FORMER ALBANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SAYS COUNTRY RUN BY
MAFIA. Perikli Teta said in Tirana on 22 January that
"smugglers and mafiaŠhave ruled the country for the past
16 months and continue to rule it today," dpa reported.
Teta, who resigned in October following riots in Tirana,
said early general elections are needed to save the
country. He added that the Socialist Party and its
coalition allies came to power "through the barrel of a
gun" and "thanks to the financial support of
organizations of smugglers and mafiosi." Teta was one of
the leaders of the Democratic Alliance, a small party
that is a member of the ruling coalition of Premier
Pandeli Majko. He resigned from his party post last
month. PB

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT POSTPONES STATE OF EMERGENCY...
President Emil Constantinescu has announced that he is
postponing a decision to impose a "state of emergency"
pending the outcome of talks between Prime Minister Radu
Vasile and the striking Jiu Valley miners. The previous
day, the government approved special regulations
providing for the declaration of either a "state of
emergency' or a "state of siege," under both of which
some constitutional rights could be curbed. Such a move
would have to be approved by the parliament within five
days. The decision followed a meeting of the country's
Supreme Defense Council and consultations with the main
political parties, excluding the Greater Romania Party.
All the participating parties urged the president to
declare a "state of emergency." At the same time, they
called on the government to draw up a series of measures
aimed at alleviating the country's economic situation
and called on Premier Vasile to meet with the striking
miners. MS

...WHILE PREMIER LEAVES CAPITAL TO MEET MINERS. Vasile
left Bucharest on 22 January to meet with the leaders of
the striking miners in Cozia, a village west of the
capital. The parliament is scheduled to convene the same
day for an emergency debate. On 21 January, Interior
Minister Gavril Dejeu tendered his resignation, assuming
responsibility for the failure of police and gendarmerie
to stop the miners' march on Bucharest. Constantin Dudu
Ionescu, a former deputy defense minister, has been
sworn in as Dejeu's successor, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. Ionescu fired two Interior Ministry officials
with the rank of general for failing to stop the miners
and appointed General Anghel Andreescu, until now head
of the Protection and Guard Service, as commander of the
gendarmerie. MS

HEAVY CLASHES BETWEEN MINERS, POLICE FORCES. Breaking
through a barricade set up by police forces at
Costinesti, the miners took hostages from among the
police forces and temporarily held the prefect of Valcea
County, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. From
Costinesti, they proceeded to Ramnicu Valcea, some 170
kilometers northwest of Bucharest. More than 120 police
officers were injured in the clashes, and two are in a
critical condition. Nine miners have been hospitalized.
Many cars, especially those with Bucharest license
plates, were damaged. Several cars belonging to Romanian
Television sustained damage, too. Reports say the local
population cheered the rampaging miners, who were later
joined by colleagues from Transylvania. MS

MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT RESUMES TALKS WITH PROTESTERS. Ion
Godonoga, chairman of the Moldovan Trade Union
Federation, says the government has agreed to resume
negotiations with the unions over the payment of wage
arrears. In Chisinau, thousands of demonstrators
continued their protest on 21 January, picketing the
government building. They were joined by the
parliamentary group of the Party of Moldovan Communists
(PCM) and its leader, Vladimir Voronin, RFE/RL's
Chisinau bureau reported. Meanwhile, the PCM
parliamentary group has sent a message to the Romanian
government expressing support for the Jiu Valley
striking miners. MS

BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT INVALIDATES LUSTRATION
PROVISIONS. The Constitutional Court on 21 January ruled
that several provisions in the law on state
administration banning former top communist officials
and secret service agents from holding civil service
positions for five years are unconstitutional, Reuters
and AP reported. The law was passed in October 1998 and
appealed by the opposition Socialist Party. The court
said that the ban violates the constitutional principle
that responsibility is individual, not collective, as
well as the constitutional guarantees of civil rights
and the prohibition of persecution on the basis of
political opinion. The court also ruled that the ban
contravenes international agreements on human rights to
which Bulgaria is a signatory. MS

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