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RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 32, Part II, 16 February 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 32, Part II, 16 February 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

* BELARUSIAN KGB SEEKING TO THWART OPPOSITION ELECTION
INITIATIVE?

* WESTERNERS PREPARE TO EVACUATE KOSOVA

* ROMANIAN MINERS' LEADER SENTENCED TO 18 YEARS IN
PRISON

End Note: LEAVING AFGHANISTAN, TRANSFORMING THE WORLD
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

KUCHMA VETOS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION BILL... Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma has returned the law on
presidential elections to the Supreme Council for
revision (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January 1999),
Ukrainian Television reported on 15 February. According
to the president, many provisions of the bill do not
conform with the constitution and other laws. He has
proposed several amendments to the bill, including
granting the right to nominate presidential candidates
not only to political parties and groups of voters but
also to public organizations. He also proposes
shortening the presidential election campaign from the
180 days stipulated by the bill to 120 days. And he has
suggested including a provision stipulating that voters
can back only one presidential candidate with his/her
signature. JM

...DENIES PERSECUTING LAZARENKO. Kuchma has rejected
former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko's statement in "The New
York Times" on 15 February that he is being politically
persecuted in Ukraine, Ukrainian Television reported.
Kuchma said that Lazarenko--who is charged with
misappropriating state funds--can freely express his
ideas, travel across Ukraine, and leave the country.
According to Ukrainian Television, Lazarenko departed
for Greece on 15 February. Later this week, the Supreme
Council is scheduled to discuss lifting Lazarenko's
parliamentary immunity in order to allow criminal
proceedings against him. Lazarenko has announced his
intention to run in the 1999 presidential elections. JM

BELARUSIAN YOUNG OPPOSITIONISTS PUNISHED FOR ST.
VALENTINE'S DAY MARCH. Yauhen Skochka, deputy chairman
of the opposition Youth Front, has been detained for 10
days for organizing an unsanctioned march in Minsk on
St. Valentine Day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 February
1999), RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. A Minsk
court also fined two members of the front and gave a
warning to 10 others for taking part in the march. JM

BELARUSIAN KGB SEEKING TO THWART OPPOSITION ELECTION
INITIATIVE? "Belorusskaya delovaya gazeta" on 12
February reported that the Belarusian KGB has drawn up a
"plan...to foil the presidential election campaign
announced by the opposition." A RFE/RL correspondent in
Minsk suggested on 15 February that the KGB's warning to
Viktor Hanchar, head of the opposition Central Electoral
Commission, not to organize such a vote may be part of
that plan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January 1999).
Barys Hyunter, Hanchar's deputy on the commission,
commented to RFE/RL that the Belarusian authorities and
the KGB "do not knowŠwhat to do with the Central
Electoral Commission, [which] has practically concluded
setting up regional [electoral] commissions. This is
very dangerous for the authorities, since they did not
expect such a wave [of people] to take part in the work
[of organizing the elections]," Hyunter added. JM

CENTER, REFORM PARTIES LEAD IN ESTONIAN POLLS. According
to an EMOR poll conducted last month, the opposition
Center and Reform parties both have 15 percent support,
up 2 percent on their ratings in December, ETA reported
on 15 February. In joint second place are the Country
People's Party and the Fatherland Union, with 9 percent
backing. The only other two parties to clear the 5
percent hurdle to parliamentary representation are the
Moderate Party (which is running on a joint list with
the People's Party), with 8 percent, and the ruling
Coalition Party, with 5 percent. Only 67 percent of
respondents were "certain" or "more or less certain"
about their choice. General elections are scheduled for
7 March. JC

FOUL PLAY IN EESTI TELEKOM TENDER? The daily "Eripaev"
reported on 15 February that Uhispank has been accused
by "several sources" of having leaked information among
its clients about the distribution terms of Eesti
Telekom shares, according to ETA. The accusations are
based on the fact that all clients of Uhispank, which
played an advisory role in the privatization of the
telecommunications company, made their bids separately,
while the clients of other banks and asset management
companies placed collective bids. This meant that the
former had an advantage over the latter because the
Roads and Communications Ministry gave preference to
bids not exceeding 1 million kroons (some $77,000). The
Securities Inspectorate is investigating the alleged
information leak. JC

RIGA COURT RULES AGAINST CITY COUNCIL DEPUTY OVER
COMMUNIST PARTY MEMBERSHIP. The Riga district court has
ruled that Tatyana Zhdanok, a deputy of the Riga City
Council for the Equal Rights movement, be stripped of
her mandate, "Diena" reported on 16 February. The
Prosecutor-General's Office filed suit against Zhdanok,
who had been a member of the Communist Party of Latvia
after 13 January 1991. Under last year's amendments to
the law on municipal elections, anyone who belonged to
the party after that date cannot become a member of a
municipal government. Zhdanok has said she will appeal
the ruling to the Supreme Court. JC

ADAMKUS BACKS DOWN OVER OMBUDSMAN NOMINATION. On
returning from vacation on 13 February, Lithuanian
President Valdas Adamkus told reporters that he will not
nominate Kestutis Lapinskas as ombudsman for a third
time, ELTA reported. Lapinskas was again rejected by the
parliament last week, largely thanks to a concerted
effort by the ruling Conservatives (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 12 February 1999). Adamkus commented that
"party ambition" had determined the outcome of that
vote. JC

POLISH PREMIER HINTS AT CABINET RESHUFFLE. Jerzy Buzek
told Polish Radio on 15 February that a cabinet
reshuffle is necessary "because of the need for an
appraisal of [the cabinet's] work." He added that he
will "exercise his constitutional rights" with regard to
the cabinet lineup. And he stressed that "as a team, the
ministers have really proved their worth."
"Rzeczpospolita" the next day speculated that Buzek will
introduce "minor changes" in the cabinet, dismissing
"several" ministers and merging some ministries. JM

POLISH FARMERS' LEADER DEMANDS CABINET RESIGNATION,
THREATENS BLOODSHED. Polish Radio reported on 13
February that the radical Self-Defense Farmers' Trade
Union has adopted a resolution demanding that the
government resign and the parliament dissolve itself.
Self-Defense leader Andrzej Lepper has threatened
bloodshed if those demands are not met. If the
government does not take specific measures by March to
improve the "tragic situation in the countryside," there
will be a "total blockade of the country" and marches
converging on Warsaw, he warned. Lepper did not sign the
protocol with the government on ending the 11-day
protest in which farmers blocked roads throughout Poland
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 February 1999). JM

CONTROVERSY OVER CZECH INTELLIGENCE SERVICE INTENSIFIES.
A spokesman for the Czech Counter-Intelligence Service
(BIS) on 15 February said the BIS is "assigned tasks
only by the government or the president," CTK reported.
Jan Subert was responding to a statement the previous
day by Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky that the BIS must
be "either dissolved or thoroughly reorganized" and that
the government may submit to the parliament a bill on
the service's status. Rychetsky said the BIS spends 600-
700 million crowns ($17.8-20.7 million) annually while
doing "virtually nothing for the country." He added that
the service "is almost privatized [as] it does not work
for the government, no one knows for whom it works, and
there is enormous disorder there." Stanislav Devaty,
former BIS head, has said he opposes dissolving the
service. MS

HZDS SETS UP COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE DUCKY MURDER.
Opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)
spokesman Igor Zvach told CTK on 15 February that the
party is setting up a "civic commission" to investigate
the murder of former Economy Minister Jan Ducky. He said
the commission will be headed by Ivan Lexa, former head
of Slovak Intelligence Service, and by former Interior
Minister Gustav Krajci, both of whom may lose their
parliamentary immunity for breaking the law when the
HZDS was in power. Zvach said the decision to set up the
commission was taken after the HZDS had received
information that incumbent Economics Minister Ludovit
Cernak was involved in the assassination. According to
Zvach, Ducky possessed information that Cernak had
accepted bribes from the Czechs in 1993. Cernak said the
allegations are "nonsense and a blatant lie." MS

FORMER SLOVAK INTELLIGENCE CHIEF SOUGHT TO HINDER CZECH
ACCESSION TO NATO. "Mlada fronta Dnes" on 16 February
reported that while Lexa was head of the Counter-
Intelligence Service (SIS), he sought to hinder the
accession of the Czech Republic to NATO. Citing a recent
report delivered by the new SIS chief, Vladimir Mitro,
to the Bratislava legislature behind closed doors, the
daily commented that "Operation Neutron" and "Operation
Dezo" sought to activate neo-Nazi groups and provoke
racially motivated, mostly anti-Roma incidents in order
to discredit Prague. MS

HUNGARY EXPELS NEO-NAZIS AFTER CLASH WITH POLICE.
Hungarian authorities on 15 February expelled 26 mostly
German neo-Nazis who had been involved in a public
disturbance two days earlier. The 26 had been among some
500 neo-Nazis and skinheads who took part in a
demonstration at Buda Castle marking the fall of
Budapest to the Russian Army at the end of World War II.
After the demonstration, a fight broke out between
police and demonstrators in a Budapest bar. In other
news, hundreds of Holocaust survivors are returning the
30,000 forints ($140) compensation they received from
the government for relatives killed in concentration
camps during World War II, saying that the sum is
"humiliating and insulting." MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

WESTERNERS PREPARE TO EVACUATE KOSOVA. Foreign aid
workers, OSCE monitors, and Western diplomats are
preparing to evacuate the province if the Rambouillet
talks fail and NATO launches air strikes against Serbia,
Reuters reported from Prishtina on 16 February. An
unnamed diplomat said that "one of my tasks today is to
get packed up and ready for an evacuation. Given the
reports from the peace talks, it seems very likely to me
that we'll get to the point of an evacuation at least,
even if not actual bombing, before there's any deal."
Unnamed Western diplomats in Belgrade told the news
agency that they have received no orders to evacuate.
They added, however, that they "always have contingency
plans" to leave at short notice. PM

MILUTINOVIC REJECTS FOREIGN TROOPS IN KOSOVA. Serbian
President Milan Milutinovic said in Paris on 15 February
that Serbia rejects any military solution to the crisis
in Kosova. He stressed that the West is threatening
Serbia with air strikes "only because we defend the
sovereignty of our country. We told [Western diplomats]
that such threats in fact amount to support for
terrorism and for terrorists," by which he meant the
Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). If Serbia is attacked,
Milutinovic continued, "we shall fight. There is no
other answer." He did not elaborate. Turning to the
question of foreign troop deployment as part of an
eventual settlement, he argued that "if the agreement is
so good and accepted by the majority of people in [the
province], why would we need foreign troops except for
chasing terrorists? And we don't need them for that." He
stressed that the question of foreign troop deployment
is the main obstacle to a settlement. PM

RUSSIA EASING SUPPORT FOR SERBIA? Unnamed Western
diplomatic sources told AP on 16 February that Russian
diplomats have agreed not to oppose the stationing of a
NATO force in Kosova, even if Moscow continues not to
endorse the plan. The previous day, Milutinovic said
that he "would not be surprised" if Russia ended its
support for Belgrade's position "under Western
pressure." PM

ALBRIGHT OUTLINES THREE OPTIONS FOR KOSOVA. During her
recent visit to Rambouillet, U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright told negotiators that there are three
possible outcomes of the talks, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported on 15 February. The first is that the
Kosovars refuse to sign a comprehensive agreement. In
such a case, the U.S. would cease all diplomatic support
for them and seal their borders with Albania and
Macedonia. The second scenario is one in which the
ethnic Albanians agree to a settlement but the Serbs do
not. The result would be air strikes against the Serbs
and increased U.S. diplomatic backing for the Kosovars.
In the third case, both sides would sign. NATO would
then deploy troops in Kosova to enforce the pact. PM

BRITISH MARINES ON WAY TO BALKANS. A spokesman for the
Defense Ministry said in London on 15 February that a
ship carrying 200 marines for possible deployment in
Kosova has left the U.K. for Thessaloniki. A second ship
is expected to leave for the Greek port on 16 February.
An additional 8,000 British troops are on alert for
quick transfer to the Balkans. PM

SERBS RETURN THREE UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS TO KOSOVARS.
Serbian authorities returned the keys to three buildings
of Prishtina University to ethnic Albanian university
officials on 15 February. The move was provided for in a
March 1998 agreement between representatives of Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic and shadow-state President
Rugova. The pact restores Albanian-language education in
government school buildings in stages (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 1 April 1998). A Kosovar spokesman told
"RFE/RL Newsline" after the agreement was signed that
its implementation quickly became a low priority for the
Kosovar leadership in the wake of the crackdown by
Serbian security forces. PM

'TRADE WAR' BETWEEN SERBIA, MONTENEGRO. Montenegrin
authorities have charged that Serbia is carrying on a
"trade war" against the mountainous republic, the
"Financial Times" reported on 16 February. Serbian
officials have prevented more than 100 trucks, many of
which contain bananas and other perishables, from
crossing the border. PM

DEMONSTRATION BY CROATIAN SUPERMARKET WORKERS. Some
2,000 employees of the Diona supermarket chain, which is
Croatia's largest, staged a protest in Zagreb on 15
February to call attention to the impending dissolution
of the bankrupt firm. Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa
promised the workers, who want to take over the company
to prevent its closure, that he will seek a quick
solution to the problem. Diona's owner is Miroslav
Kutle, who has accumulated some $200 million in debts.
He has close links to the governing Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ). PM

CALL FOR CROATIAN TELEVISION BOYCOTT. Zlatko Tomcic, who
heads the small Croatian Peasants' Party, has called on
citizens not to pay their television license fees to
protest HDZ control over state-run television. He said
in Zagreb on 15 February that his suggestion amounts to
a call to civil disobedience. At the same time, he
stressed that citizens are not obliged to finance
political advertising, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported. PM

ALBANIA' S LEKA FREED ON BAIL. A Johannesburg court has
freed Leka Zogu, who is the claimant to the Albanian
throne, on $25,000 bail, AP reported on 15 February.
Four of his supporters were also released on bail
ranging from $170 to $340. Police arrested the five last
week on charges of illegal arms possession (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 8 February 1999). FS

ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS AGREE TO REWRITE HAJDARI BILL.
Democratic Party officials told the "Albanian Daily
News" of 16 February that they have agreed to rewrite a
bill providing for an "independent investigation" into
the 1998 killing of Democratic leader Azem Hajdari. OSCE
experts have said the draft contravenes the constitution
and have recommended specific changes to the bill (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 3 February 1999). Government lawyers
also criticized the draft, saying it undermines the
independence of the judiciary by creating a body that
would duplicate the functions of the Prosecutor-General.
FS

ALBANIAN SECRET SERVICE WARNS OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE.
Secret service (SHIK) officials told "Koha Jone" of 16
February that they have evidence that two armed gangs
are especially dangerous. One of the gangs is allegedly
based in Thumana, near Fushe-Kruja, and includes former
SHIK employees and dismissed policemen. A SHIK official
told "Koha Jone" that the group has political ambitions
and may try to stage a coup. Another armed group
allegedly has its center in the southern city of Vlora
and is led by an unnamed criminal who recently escaped
from prison. The group, whose specialties are reportedly
blackmail and extortion, seeks to infiltrate local
government structures in order to protect its
operations, according to the "Albanian Daily News." FS

ROMANIAN MINERS' LEADER SENTENCED TO 18 YEARS IN PRISON.
The Supreme Court on 15 February sentenced Miron Cozma,
leader of the Jiu Valley miners, to 18 years in prison
for his role in the riots that brought down the
government headed by Petre Roman in September 1991. He
did not attend the trial and said later that he will not
surrender to the authorities, calling the sentence
"illegal" and "absurd," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau
reported. The Supreme Court overturned a lower court's
ruling that had handed down an 18-month prison sentence
for "disturbing public order." It also changed the
charge against Cozma to "undermining state authority,
illegal possession of fire arms and jeopardizing rail
traffic." In addition, Cozma is forbidden to enter
Bucharest or Petrosani for five years after his release.
MS

...WHILE MINERS THREATEN TO MARCH ON BUCHAREST AGAIN.
Mediafax reported on 16 February that several hundred
miners from the Jiu Valley have begun a new march on
Bucharest. Earlier, Radio Bucharest reported that on
hearing the news of Cozma's sentence, several shifts
refused to descend to the pits. In the early hours of 16
February, the miners were reported gathering in
Petrosani to prevent Cozma's arrest. According to other
reports, busses are bringing protesters to Petrosani
from other towns in the valley. The trade union headed
by Cozma announced that he will remain its leader. MS

BULGARIA DEMANDS RELEASE OF MEDICS IN LIBYA. The Foreign
Ministry on 15 February called on Libya to "immediately
release" 19 Bulgarian doctors and nurses detained last
week for questioning over the reported increase in AIDS
cases in their wards at a Benghazi hospital, an RFE/RL
correspondent in Sofia reported. The ministry called
Libya's actions "contrary to international norms and
practices." The Libyan embassy in Sofia said the
investigation of the detained medics is "routine."
Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov has
summoned Libyan diplomats in Sofia to demand information
about the incident. He said there is "no legal
justification" for the detentions and criticized Libya
for withholding information and the names of the medics
detained. MS

END NOTE

LEAVING AFGHANISTAN, TRANSFORMING THE WORLD

by Paul Goble

	Ten years ago, the last Soviet army units left
Afghanistan, closing a chapter on Moscow's disastrous
military intervention there and opening the way to the
disintegration of the Soviet system as a whole.
	But as dramatic as those changes were, the Soviet
withdrawal from Afghanistan continues to affect that
country, the post-Soviet states, and the Western world
in ways that may ultimately prove to be even more
dramatic. That is because the withdrawal called into
question many of the assumptions that had governed the
international system during the Cold War and thus opened
the way not only to a post-Soviet but also to a post-
Cold War world.
	That process began on 15 February 1989, when
General Boris Gromov led approximately 400 Soviet
soldiers across the Afghan border into the USSR, just
five minutes before the deadline set for their
withdrawal by the U.N.-sponsored Geneva accords of April
1988. In addition to the impact of the event itself--the
first Soviet withdrawal from any territory since the
Austrian State Treaty more than 30 years earlier--its
larger implications for the Soviet Union were suggested
by two articles that appeared in the Moscow press on the
same day.
	In a front-page commentary, the Communist Party
newspaper "Pravda" argued that any future commitment of
Soviet troops must "not be decided in secrecy," as had
been the case when Moscow decided to intervene in
Afghanistan in December 1979, but only "with the
approval of the country's parliament."
	The Moscow weekly "Literaturnaya gazeta," for its
part, published one of the first detailed accounts of
Soviet atrocities in the Afghan war, which many Soviet
citizens had known about but which the Soviet
authorities until then had consistently refused to
acknowledge.
 	All three of these events--the withdrawal itself,
the acknowledgement that the Soviet intervention lacked
popular support, and the description of the atrocities--
had the effect of further delegitimizing the Soviet
system. Thus, they played a key role in its ultimate
destruction.
	But precisely because this withdrawal proved to be
so pivotal in the history of the region, it has
generated a set of images that continue to mold opinions
not only in Afghanistan but also in the post-Soviet
states and the Western world. These opinions appear
likely to reshape the future even as the withdrawal
itself already has reshaped the past.
	In Afghanistan, the Soviet withdrawal had much the
same effect as Russia's defeat in the Russo-Japanese War
more than 80 years earlier. It encouraged Afghans, other
Muslims, and indeed many non-Europeans to think that
they could take on a major power and win, something few
had assumed until then. That shift in assumptions helped
power the Taliban in Afghanistan itself, and many other
challenges to European and U.S. dominance of
international affairs.
	Indeed, much of the current terrorist challenge to
the West has its roots in the Soviet withdrawal not only
because the Mujaheddin demonstrated that a European
power could be defeated on the field of battle but also
because it showed that a great power would be willing to
withdraw rather than continue to fight.
	In the post-Soviet states--and particularly in
Central Asia and the Caucasus--Moscow's withdrawal from
Afghanistan has led many to conclude that political
power is fragile and that popular groups inspired by
Islam can successfully challenge it. Some groups in
Tajikistan and elsewhere have challenged the
authorities, while many of those in power have sought to
justify repressive policies in the name of preventing
the kind of societal and political chaos that
Afghanistan suffered in the wake of the Soviet
occupation.
	And on a global scale, the Soviet withdrawal from
Afghanistan continues to serve as a reminder that
however strong a state may appear to outsiders, it can
be defeated and even destroyed if it loses all popular
legitimacy.
	Before the Soviet withdrawal, many in both the
Soviet Union and the West assumed that the Soviet Union
would continue forever. After that event, many in both
places recognized that the days of the Soviet power were
numbered.
	Such prophecies not only proved to be self-
fulfilling, but they also have led people in other
countries, far different and far removed from the USSR,
to think about changing structures that many had assumed
could never be dislodged.
	In 1975, four years before Moscow invaded
Afghanistan and 14 years before it withdrew, the
yearbook of the "Kabul Times" claimed that Afghanistan
was "the beginning of the end of everything." To a
larger extent than the editors of that newspaper knew,
their claim has proved true, first by the Soviet
withdrawal and then by the impact of that withdrawal on
the world.
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