The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity. - George Bernard Shaw
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 41, Part II, 1 March 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 41, Part II, 1 March 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

* POLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC SIGN NATO ACCESSION DOCUMENTS

* KOSOVARS FLEE TO MACEDONIA

* OSCE CALLS RAHOVEC SITUATION 'EXPLOSIVE'
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EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE

UKRAINE'S RUKH SPLITS IN STRUGGLE OVER LEADERSHIP. An
extraordinary congress of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine
elected 47-year-old Yuriy Kostenko, former environment
minister, as chairman to replace 61-year-old Vyacheslav
Chornovil, dpa reported on 28 February. Chornovil said
at the congress that the vote to replace him lacked the
necessary two-thirds majority, and he called on the
party to hold another meeting on 6 March. Earlier
Chornovil had been removed as chairman of the Rukh
caucus in the Supreme Council (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23
February 1999). Former Foreign Minister Hennadiy
Udovenko, Rukh's presidential candidate in the 1999
elections, had called the congress "illegitimate" and
pledged his support for Chornovil, Ukrainian Television
reported on 27 February. Kostenko, who was also elected
head of the Rukh parliamentary caucus, has accused
Chornovil of "selling Rukh to the authorities." JM

UKRAINE DESTROYS LAST SS-19 MISSILE. Ukraine has
destroyed the last of its 111 Soviet-era SS-19 inter-
ballistic missiles. The last IBM was destroyed on 26
February in Dnepropetrovsk under a U.S. program,
launched in 1991 by Senators Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn,
aimed at helping former Soviet republics get rid of
their weapons of mass destruction. Ukraine has received
some $500 million under the program. In 1996, Ukraine
surrendered all its nuclear warheads to Russia and
pledged to remain nuclear-free. The elimination of
Ukraine's remaining strategic bombers and SS-24 missiles
is scheduled to be completed by December 2001. JM

BELARUSIANS PROTEST 'RUSSIAN FASCISM.' Some 2,000 people
marched in Minsk on 27 February to protest the beating
of three pro-democracy activists by a neo-Nazi group, AP
and Reuters reported. Andrey Sannikau, leader of the
Charter-97 opposition group, and his two colleagues were
beaten on 5 February by some 20 supporters of the
fascist Russian National Unity. The protesters carried
banners with the slogans "Belarus does not need Russian
fascism" and "For a Belarus without fascism and nuclear
weapons." They also urged President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka to step down when his five-year mandate
expires in July. The controversial 1996 referendum
extended Lukashenka's term in office until 2001. JM

LUKASHENKA DENIES HE WANTS NUCLEAR WEAPONS BACK.
Lukashenka has denied he wants to bring back nuclear
weapons to Belarusian territory, Belarusian Television
reported. The president is quoted as saying at a Moscow
airport on 26 January that "journalists close to some
political circles" misinterpreted his statement that
Belarus made a "big mistake" when it transferred its
nuclear missiles to Russia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25
February 1999). Lukashenka said the "terrifying"
misinterpretation was an attempt "to wield Belarus as a
club in front of the West's nose." He added that he will
not allow Belarus to be used to "blackmail the West." He
pointed out that Belarus has proposed an initiative to
keep Central and Eastern Europe nuclear-free. "We are a
peace-loving and neutral state," Lukashenka said, but he
stressed once again that withdrawing nuclear weapons
from Belarus was a big mistake. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION TO CONTINUE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
INITIATIVE. Alyaksandr Koktysh, a member of the
opposition Central Electoral Commission, has told
RFE/RL's Belarusian Service that the commission will
continue organizing the 16 May presidential elections in
accordance with its earlier adopted schedule. Koktysh
said despite their detention late last month (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 25 February 1999), commission members
have approved the composition of territorial electoral
commissions and will now register groups collecting
signatures for presidential candidates. According to
Koktysh, former Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir and
Belarusian Popular Front exiled leader Zyanon Paznyak
are expected to run in the 16 May elections. ITAR-TASS
reported that Central Electoral Commission head Viktar
Hanchar and Paznyak met on 28 February in Warsaw and
signed "documents" related to the presidential
elections. JM

ESTONIA'S NATIONALITIES MINISTER EXPELLED FROM OWN
PARTY. The board of the Progressive Party on 26 February
expelled Nationalities Minister Andra Veidemann, along
with seven members of the party who are running in the 7
March elections on the list of the Country People's
Party, BNS reported. Last month, Veidemann had stepped
down as chairwoman of the Progressive Party until after
the general elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February
1999) amid differences within the party over, among
other things, the issue of members running on the list
of another party. According to recent polls, the
Progressive Party will not clear the 5 percent hurdle to
enter the parliament. On 28 February, the chairmen of
the People's and Moderate Parties, Toomas Hendrik Ilves
and Andres Tarand, signed documents on the merger of
their formations. JC

LITHUANIAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTER RESIGNS... Algis
Chaplikas of the Center Union party resigned on 26
February as environment minister, saying in a letter to
Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius that the present
political situation in the country would "hinder" his
further work in the government. Conservative
parliamentary deputies called for Chaplikas's
resignation after Center Union leader Romualdas Ozolas
had predicted that early elections would be held and the
premier forced to resign. Those comments by the head of
the Center Union, which is not a member of the two-party
ruling coalition, come in the wake of the dispute over
unpaid debts for electricity supplies to Belarus (see
below). Last week, Vagnorius accused various state
bodies, including the State Control Department and the
president's office, of seeking to destabilize the
political situation in the country over that affair (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 25 February 1999). JC

...WHILE PRESIDENT SEEKS TO CALM TENSIONS. Arriving at
Vilnius airport following a state visit to Italy, Valdas
Adamkus told reporters that "neither the president nor
his staff are plotting against the parliament or the
government," Baltic news agencies reported on 26
February. He commented that he will seek "solidarity"
among politicians, state officials, and leaders of state
institutions in solving current problems, adding that he
does not intend to "initiate" the cabinet's resignation
or early parliamentary elections. He also made it clear
that he will not accept an invitation to attend a
cabinet meeting this week at which ministers are to
decide whether to continue electricity exports to
Belarus. JC

PROSECUTOR-GENERAL REJECTS CASE AGAINST LIETUVOS
ENERGIJA. The Prosecutor-General's Office has returned
to the State Control Department charges brought against
the state company Lietuvos Energija in connection with
Belarus's outstanding debts for electricity supplies,
ELTA reported on 26 February. The department has accused
Lietuvos Energija of squandering 50.7 million litas
($12.67 million, see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 February
1999). The Prosecutor-General's Office said that the
department failed either to justify such a move or to
conduct an audit of the company beforehand. It added
that the department exceeded its competence and breached
the principle of presumption of innocence. JC

POLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC SIGN NATO ACCESSION DOCUMENTS...
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and his Czech
counterpart, Vaclav Havel, signed the NATO accession
documents simultaneously in Warsaw and Prague on 26
February in ceremonies broadcast live by national
television stations. Kwasniewski called the signing a
"special moment in our history. We are coming back to
where our place is," he said, adding that NATO should
remain open for new members. Havel commented that the
signed documents are of "truly historic significance."
The security of the Czech Republic is now "becoming an
integral part of the security of the entire Euro-
American world," he said. JM

...WHILE PRAGUE CEREMONY DISRUPTED BY PROTESTER. The
ratification ceremony was disrupted in Prague by a
environmental activist blowing a whistle, CTK reported
on 26 February. Jan Krecek, son of deputy Stanislav
Krecek of the ruling Social Democratic Party, also
burned a card bearing the NATO emblem, before he was
dragged down from a chair and whisked away by President
Havel's bodyguards. The protester told CTK that he has
been charged with hooliganism, commenting that "I do not
see any hooliganism in what I did. I wanted to express
my disagreement in some way with the Czech Republic's
joining of NATO, because a referendum has been ruled
out." Havel's spokesman told CTK that Krecek had abused
his journalist's accreditation. MS

POLICE ASK SLOVAK PARLIAMENT TO STRIP LEXA OF IMMUNITY.
Jaroslav Ivor, director of the Slovak police's
Investigation Division, told journalists on 26 February
that the police have requested that parliamentary
chairman Jozef Migas launch proceedings for stripping
former Slovak Counter-Intelligence (SIS) chief Ivan Lexa
of his parliamentary immunity, CTK reported. Ivor said
the police want to begin a criminal investigation into
Lexa. He added that the report presented by new SIS
chief Vladimir Mitro to a closed session of the
parliament last month aroused suspicion that Lexa was
involved in the 1995 kidnapping of former President
Michal Kovac's son. MS

SLOVAKIA 'REGRETS' SECRET SERVICE OPERATIONS AGAINST
HUNGARY. Ervin Demeter, an Hungarian intelligence
official, told journalists in Budapest on 26 February
that the Slovak government has admited to carrying out
secret service operations against Hungary during
Vladimir Meciar's tenure as prime minister. He added
that it "regreted" those actions. Demer also said that
the Hungarian secret services had been aware of, and had
successfully countered, the Slovak secret service's
activities. The Hungarian Foreign Ministry welcomed the
admission as "evidence of a new era of cooperation
between the two countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman
told MTI the same day. Horvath said Slovakia's
ambassador to Hungary has handed over a note saying that
"the current Slovak government dissociates itself from
the perverseness of the past." MSZ/MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

KOSOVARS FLEE TO MACEDONIA. Up to 3,000 Kosovar
civilians tried to flee to Macedonia on 28 February to
escape a Serbian assault on their homes in the Hani I
Elezit area, near Kosova's southern border. Serbian
forces prevented the civilians from crossing the
frontier, saying they lack the necessary papers. Reuters
reported on 1 March that some 350 civilians took shelter
in a nearby snow-covered forest, but it is unclear where
the other displaced persons are at present. In nearby
Kacanik, at least one Serbian policeman died in fighting
on 28 February. The BBC said that the continuing
incidents are "part of a daily pattern of instability."
The broadcast added that the strong Serbian police
presence in many parts of the province has prevented
Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) representatives from
visiting their followers to explain the terms of the
proposed Rambouillet settlement. PM

OSCE CALLS RAHOVEC SITUATION 'EXPLOSIVE.' In the Rahovec
area, four Serbian civilians were kidnapped in two
separate incidents on 27 February. The UCK freed two of
the Serbs unharmed, but its spokesmen at first denied
any knowledge of the fate of the other two. The
following day, UCK spokesman Jakup Krasniqi said the
guerrillas had captured them as well and killed one of
them. OSCE monitors told AP on 1 March that the
situation is "explosive" and that they are
investigating. The UCK kidnapped several dozen Serbian
civilians in that area last year. PM

KOSOVARS MARK FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF ARMED STRUGGLE. Some
4,000 Kosovars in the Drenica area attended a ceremony
on 28 February to mark the first anniversary of the
slaying of 24 civilians by Serbian police, which was in
revenge for the killing of two Serbian security
personnel by the UCK. Even larger crowds are expected on
6 March to commemorate the first anniversary of the
slaying of UCK leader Adem Jashari and many members of
his clan in the Prekaz area (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9
March 1998). Supporters of the UCK regard the clashes in
the Drenica region in February and March 1998 as the
beginning of the guerrillas' armed struggle for
independence. PM

GUERRILLAS CALL INVITATION TO WASHINGTON 'MILESTONE.'
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 26 February
that unspecified representatives of the U.S. government
have invited leading officials of the UCK to Washington
to discuss the Rambouillet settlement. The UCK's General
Staff said in a statement on 1 March that the
"preliminary official invitation" came from the State
Department and that "the delegation is expected to
travel soon to the U.S.... The visit is proof of the
acceptance of the UCK [as a legitimate force] and of the
internationalization of the Kosova problem." PM

SERBIAN BUILDUP AIMED AT 'DESTROYING' UCK? A spokesman
for the UCK said in Prishtina on 28 February that the
guerrillas have unspecified information that indicates
that the Serbian military buildup in and around Kosova
is aimed at "destroying" the UCK before peace talks
reconvene on 15 March , RFE/RL's South Slavic Service
reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 February 1999). A
Pentagon spokesman noted on 27 February that Serbian
security forces are continuing their buildup in Serbia
proper near the border with Kosova. U.S. President Bill
Clinton said on 26 February that Yugoslav President
Slobodan "Milosevic should understand that this is a
time for restraint, not repression. And if he does not,
NATO is prepared to act." NATO Secretary-General Javier
Solana told Spanish Television that "we cannot allow a
Serbian offensive that changes the situation on the
ground." PM

CHIRAC WARNS OF 'GRAVE CONSEQUENCES.' French President
Jacques Chirac told 1,200 French troops in Kumanovo,
Macedonia, on 28 February that the Serbs and Kosovars
"should choose wisdom and peace, because this is in the
interest of the people of the region. The side that does
not sign the agreement will bear responsibility for the
grave consequences that will ensue." He did not
elaborate. Earlier, Chirac discussed the political
situation in the Balkans with President Kiro Gligorov
and Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski. In Belgrade the
previous day, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj
warned Macedonia against continuing to play host to NATO
forces. He said that "nothing will remain of Macedonia
if any foreign army attacks Serbia from Macedonia." PM

ALBANIA BACKS KOSOVAR PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT. Foreign
Minister Paskal Milo told the "Albanian Daily News" of
27 February in Tirana that the Albanian government
supports Kosova's new provisional government (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 25 February 1999). Milo said that the
government "will lead the [ethnic] Albanians through the
transitional period." Milo's spokesman Sokol Gjoka
expressed the hope that the UCK's political
representative Adem Demaci will drop his objections to
the provisional government, to which other UCK leaders
now belong. He added that Tirana will invite unspecified
Kosovar leaders to a meeting in Tirana on 3 March. FS

ALBANIAN ARMY STARTS EXERCISES NEAR KOSOVA BORDER.
Albania's army began maneuvers in the Tropoja and Has
regions on 26 February, Reuters reported. Defense
Minister Luan Hajdaraga, who was visiting the troops,
said the border situation is "really tense" and the army
remains in a state of "high readiness," AP reported.
Elsewhere, Foreign Minister Milo told Albanian public
television that "NATO forces are welcome in Albania if
that is necessary." He repeated earlier offers of ports
and air facilities to NATO troops for a possible Kosova
deployment. He expressed the hope that "NATO's
presence...will help settle the [Kosova conflict and]
restore security in the whole region," dpa reported. FS

BOSNIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATS MERGE. Delegates from the
opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Social
Democrats of Bosnia-Herzegovina (SDBH) agreed in
Sarajevo on 27 February to form the Social Democratic
Party of Bosnia-Herzegovina (SDPBH). The president is
the SDP's Zlatko Lagumdzija. The SDBH's Selim Beslagic
heads the steering committee, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. The merger marks the end of months of
efforts by several Social Democratic parties from
Western Europe to persuade the two parties to sink their
differences and oppose the governing nationalist
parties, which control 68 out of 140 seats in the
federation's lower house. The SDPBH holds 25 seats. It
is the heir to the former League of Communists, and its
main support bases are Sarajevo and Tuzla. PM

SLOVENIA PROTESTS MARITIME INCIDENT TO CROATIA. A
Slovenian government spokesman said in Ljubljana on 27
February that the Slovenian authorities will lodge a
formal protest with the Croatian authorities following
an incident in the Gulf of Piran earlier that day. A
Croatian patrol boat stopped an unspecified number of
Slovenian fishing boats and warned them that they were
in Croatian waters. For eight years, Croatia and
Slovenia have been negotiating--without success--the
delineation of their maritime boundary in the Gulf of
Piran. PM

FORMER ALBANIAN SUPREME COURT JUDGE DIES AFTER SHOOTING.
Kleanthi Koci died on 27 February as he was travelling
to Italy for treatment of injuries he suffered in an
assassination attempt several days earlier (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 25 February 1999). Koci was Supreme Court
chief judge in the early 1990s. He later became chairman
of the Albanian lawyers' professional association, ATSH
reported. He defended communist-era President Ramiz Alia
during his 1994 trial on charges of crimes against
humanity. In recent years, there has been a sharp
increase in apparently unrelated bombing attacks and
assassination attempts against representatives of the
judiciary. FS

U.S. DONATES PATROL BOATS TO ALBANIA. U.S. military
officials formally presented two patrol vessels to the
Albanian coast guard near Durres on 27 February. The
boats will help to stem the illegal trafficking of
immigrants across the Otranto Straits and will also be
used for search-and-rescue operations, ATSH reported. FS

ROMANIAN PREMIER DEFEATS PARTY RIVALS, SECURES SUPPORT.
An enlarged meeting of the Steering Committee of the
ruling National Peasant Party Christian Democratic
(PNTCD) has voted by 43 to four with two abstentions to
approve the policies of Radu Vasile's cabinet, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported on 27 February. Former Premier
Victor Ciorbea, who heads the group of PNTCD dissidents,
said that while GDP is decreasing, "we are lectured
about the relaunching of the economy." He added that
Vasile is responsible for the cabinet's failure to
secure an urgently needed accord with the IMF.
Meanwhile, IMF chief negotiator for Romania, Emmanuel
Zervoudakis, said at the end of a two-week visit to
Bucharest on 26 February, that Romania's request to
renew loans cannot be considered before June. "Despite
some progress" in market reforms, he said, "there is
still need to develop detailed plans in the area of
structural policy," Reuters reported. MS

FORMER LIBERAL LEADER ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF NATIONALIST
PARTY. In a move that took many observers by surprise,
Viorel Catarama, former deputy chairman of the National
Liberal Party, was elected interim chairman of the
extra-parliamentary Romanian National Party (PNR) on 28
February. One day earlier, former PNR chairman Mihai
Berca said he was ready to step down in Catarama's
favor. PNR Secretary-General Virgil Magureanu, former
director of Romanian Intelligence Service, is reported
to have engineered the move, which he called " a huge
step forward for the PNR." Catarama told the PNR
National Council that the party must win the 2000
elections by representing the middle class and pursuing
a "national policy," one of whose main objectives would
be to ensure Transylvania remains part of Romania. MS

ROMANIA, BULGARIA TO MEDIATE IN KOSOVA CONFLICT?
Bulgarian Premier Ivan Kostov, at the end of a one-day
visit to Romania on 27 February, said he discussed with
his Romanian counterpart, Vasile, the possibility of
sending to Belgrade and Pristina a joint parliamentary
delegation to examine ways of contributing to a peace
accord in the region. Vasile said the proposal was
"useful" but needs the prior approval of Romania's
parliament, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The two
premiers also discussed bilateral economic problems.
Kostov proposed that Bulgaria build and finance a bridge
over the River Danube between Vidin and Calafat. The
Romanian government is to examine that proposal. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT POSTPONES CONFIDENCE VOTE IN STURDZA
CABINET. The parliament on 26 February postponed until 2
March its vote of confidence in the cabinet headed by
Premier-designate Ion Sturdza after Iurie Rosca, leader
of the Christian Democratic Popular Front (FPCD)
announced at the last minute that the FPCD will not
support the government. The ruling coalition parties had
agreed on 25 February to support the cabinet, but Rosca
announced that the FPCD is not satisfied with having
just two ministers in the cabinet and that it objects to
the predominance of the For a Democratic and Prosperous
Moldova bloc, Infotag reported. Without the votes of the
nine-strong FPCD parliamentary group, the government
would be one vote short of the 51 majority needed for
the cabinet's approval. MS

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